— a novel of my grandmother’s life

Cover of Nell novel by Penelope Todd
Cover image by Caroline Pope

Nell was published by Cloud Ink Press this month, May 2024.

A powerfully moving story, narrated in gem-like episodes. Readers will resonate with Nell’s quintessentially New Zealand character— her failings, her integrity, her compassion and strength.

An astonishingly vivid yet gently evoked chronicle of an individual’s life.

Emma Neale

Nell is born to a new century, her early life forged in the freedom of the NZ high country. And yet, her own freedom is tested: by family expectation, by husband Herb’s pride, by the rigours of family life on a Maniototo sheep station.

Penelope Todd: ‘In writing Nell, I felt my way, scene by scene, into the life of my grandmother whom I hardly knew, and found in each scene a bright and palpable presence. I was tapping something potent.’

Nell dares to step beyond the bounds; she revels and stumbles in love; encounters the perils of a woman’s life, of motherhood and devastating loss; she embraces the consolation of friendship and seeks a worldview that can hold it all.

Powerfully authentic, with a deep truth at its core, Penelope Todd’s latest novel celebrates the beauty of a life of quiet stoicism, following a simple path. The clamour of twentieth century history fades beyond the richly observed detail of one woman’s life: from childhood to youth and love, marriage, childbirth, loss and the consolations of friendship, a garden, and the wide vistas of Otago’s high country. To read it becomes a kind of meditation.

Fiona Farrell

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