The New Zealand Novel 1860-1965
Tangahano. Frances Keinzly is also a writer of promise. Her plot mechanism in Tangahano creaks badly, especially the hackneyed contrivance by which the father is drawn back into the family so that a romantic happy ending may be clearly in sight on the final page. The writing too, is in the romantic tradition, relying overmuch upon the colourful adjective. For example, look at the account of the roadside fruit stalls passed as Kathy and her family motor south from Auckland, "... set out to display red satin strawberries, red velvet tomatoes, red shot-silk apples ..." One is reminded of the adjectival excess which clogged Jane Mander's prose in the opening chapter of The Story of a New Zealand River, and on which Katherine Mansfield passed a caustic comment. Similar descriptions later in the book are more effective, however, being there to evoke the atmosphere of the dam settlement. Slashed into the bush and the earth beside the swift river, unnatural, rootless, it is like the people who must live there, without tradition.
Kathy, brought to this alien place by a husband who needs the high wages, makes a home out of a shack in spite of fate; but the hard driving force which she exerts in order to do so undermines her marriage. The novel is an analysis of this development, in which the people page 112 of the place as well as the casual raw vitality of the environment play an important part.