Breakwater by Kate Duignan [VUP 2001]. Ella, a young woman who unexpectedly finds herself pregnant, accepts a place to live with her friend Tess and her mother Louise. Louise lives on Wellington's south coast, owns the Breakwater Cafe and has struggled to bring up her now grown-up children on her own. This first novel written by Duignan in her mid 20s as part of the MA in Creative Writing at Victoria University is surprising for its maturity and polish. The author treads firmly in the world of daily human interaction pausing to make you watch what people are really doing, and listen, truly listen, to what people are trying to say. There is a delicacy of thought here, and an unsentimental, intelligent view of the world that lets characters quietly unfold and surprise you. The wild Wellington setting beside the sea is simply terrific. This is Louise:
'While each one of them sleeps and sloughs off the frustrations of the morning she is left alone, wound up, unable to read or think. She is reminded of the silverbeet growing up in the garden, in urgent need of treatment for white butterflies, and of the McCahon exhibition she hasn't seen yet, and of this slim novel, about Clarissa Dalloway and her plans to hold a party. All persistently unfinished. She wonders how it has come to this so quickly: being swept up entirely in the eye of young storms, with nothing of her own, no space to breathe. How has it happened that she is here once again? Taken over, and separate from her sense of self, which she sees as a shadow, quickly becoming thin and transparent, and walking now in a different direction.'