Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute

Books Archive

Month: September 2019

The Testaments – Athenaeum Book Club 2020

By Margaret Atwood

September 20, 2019

Athenaeum Book Club selection 2010

‘Our time together is about to begin, my reader.  Possibly you will view these pages of mine as a fragile treasure box, to be opened with the utmost care.  Possibly you will tear them apart, or burn them: that often happens with words.’

You hold in your hands a dangerous weapon loaded with the secrets of three women from Gilead.  They are risking their lives for you.  For all of us.

Before you enter their world, you might want to arm yourself with these thoughts:

Knowledge is power


History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.

The Man Who Was Saturday – Athenaeum Book Club 2019

By Patrick Bishop

September 20, 2019

Athenaeum Book Club selection 2019

Soldier, Escaper, Spymaster, Politician – Airey Neave was assassinated in the House of Commons car park in 1979.  Forty years after his death, Patrick Bishop’s penetrating and action-packed biography examines the life, heroic war and death of one of Britain’s most remarkable twentieth-century figures.

Taken prisoner by the Germans in 1940, Neave was the first British officer to escape from Colditz, and using the code name ‘Saturday’ became a key figure in the IS9 escape and evasion organization that spirited hundreds of Allied airman and soldiers out of Occupied Europe.  A lawyer by training, he came face to face with many architects of Nazi terror at the Nuremberg war trials, serving indictments on Goering, Hess and Ribbentrop, among others.

In peace he turned to politics and in 1953 was elected Conservative MP for Abingdon.  He went on to become the man who made Margaret Thatcher, mounting a brilliantly manipulative campaign that in 1975 won her the leadership of the Tory Party.

His death was as dramatic as his life.  On 30 March 1979, a bomb planted beneath his car exploded while he was driving up the ramp of the House of Commons car park, killing him instantly.  The murder was claimed by the breakaway Irish Republican group, the INLA.  His killers have never been identified.

Patrick Bishop’s fast-paced and deeply researched biography, published to mark the 40th anniversary of Neave’s death, sheds new light on the mystery of who killed him and why their identities have been hidden for so long.  It is also sympathetic portrait of a vanished breed: a public figure shaped by the experience of war and driven by duty, patriotism and honour.

Relative Strangers – Athenaeum Book Club 2019

By Pip Murdoch

September 20, 2019

Athenaeum Book Club selection 2019

Pip Murdoch has written a searingly honest memoir about growing up in the nineteen sixties and what it was like to give up a child for adoption,  in the face of limited choices and moral disapproval of unmarried mothers.

The search for her son, years after his birth, is a poignant, often heart-breaking account that reads like a page turning detective story.

Anyone who has been affected by the adoption circle, and there are many of us in New Zealand, will find this a compulsive read, and be touched by its compassionate approach to every aspect of the process and the people involved, whether it be the adoptee, birth parents, or adoptive parents, and the legacy of the practice.  Above all, it is an extraordinary and vivid testament to an era.

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