The Seeking Feet by Rosaleen Conway
Reviewer: Jan Grainger
The Seeking Feet is an intriguing mix of Māori, Irish, Scottish and Austrian. The feet themselves belong to a young Irishman, Tim Malone, born in Belfast in the 19th century, who sails to New Zealand and marries into a family from Tolaga Bay.
They could equally belong to Tim’s father, an emigré to America after the potato famine, or to Tim’s daughter, Meri, who leaves her marae at Tolaga Bay to go for a brief visit to Belfast.
Then there is the McErlain family, originally from Glasgow, who go via Tolaga Bay to Sydney, and Joachim, an Austrian musician with a circus who arrives also in Sydney but ultimately ends up at Tolaga Bay.
As they seek to follow their dreams and to find new directions in their lives, these people connect with one another and cultures intermingle: an Irish rover meets a M%u0101ori wahine, a Scots lass meets an Austrian musician.
Consequently, everyone becomes both teacher and learner.
Throughout the story, we see the power of music—to calm, to cheer, to console. And we see how people are brought together by their music and songs, how music is a common thread running beneath everyday lives.
Joachim plays the mandolin, his son, Harry, makes strangely shaped instruments and Meri’s violin was made by Tim’s father. Symbolically, the music Meri makes could be Celtic, or it could be M%u0101ori. Meri herself is a child with a wisdom beyond her years and who, she says of herself, was born with the music inside her.
The novel, Conway’s sixth, is tightly written, the characters brought to life with deft strokes. We are taken to a satisfying conclusion, led towards the idea that getting along with different kinds of folk can be rewarding.
Joachim’s words at the close of the novel, as he ends a letter to the McErlains, are a neat summation: ‘Yours in the ring of Life’s Circus’.
In bookshops or from CA Publishers, PO Box 54076, Mana 5247.
$20.00 incl p and p.