Newlands: A Wickedly Funny Novel
by Gary Langford

"What does being one hundred mean? It means you don’t have to apologize."

An old man looks back on a hundred years of life lived from the late nineteenth century to the late twentieth century. While the world was charging forward into the future, Reynolds was growing up and eventually growing old in much the same way human beings always have—with one particular exception. Reynolds seemed to enjoy himself a lot more than most. Humor, irony, and jest are at the heart of this sweeping saga of a New Zealander who could move relentlessly forward through trials and tribulations that would flatten lesser mortals. Langford imbues his principle character with the wisdom prolonged hindsight provides. Distance allows the narrator of his own story to discover the folly in thinking one can ever out-maneuver fate.

Born into a hardscrabble rural existence, Reynolds becomes heir to a passing parade of indelible experiences. He falls in love with the daughter of a wealthy landowner. He survives the horrific slaughter of Gallipoli. He loses both parents and children. He succeeds beyond his wildest dreams as a phenomenal salesman. He crashes along with the stock market. He becomes a practicing poet. He reinvents himself as an entrepreneur of electronics. He finds love anew in the arms of another man’s wife. He is put out to pasture only to find renewal and escape with the help of his exuberant grandchildren.

This is a novel by an author who writes wisely and well. The pace is swift yet doesn’t feel hurried. The dialogue crackles with authenticity. The prose is articulate without being artsy. If history sprinkled liberally with the foibles of human behavior is something you savor, this just may be your cup of tea.

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