Renée is one of New Zealand’s most admired playwrights and novelists, the author of eight novels and over twenty plays. She writes direct, clear-sighted social histories, threaded through with humour and with forthright tenderness. Her stories often follow strong, capable women carving good lives for themselves and their dependents in the face of hardship or injustice. I was privileged last week to be present at the Dunedin launch of her memoir, These Two Hands. In person, and on the page, Renée is witty, irreverent, intelligent, moving and utterly inspiring. I defy you to read her memoir and not want to claim your own life with words, passion and delight. These Two Hands is a tonic and a treasure, like its author. Here, from These Two Hands, is Renée on “being old”:
Being old. What’s it like? How does it feel? How do you do it? There are no maps, no guidelines, you have to make your own way. A lot depends on your idea of what being old means. I had no examples in my family because they nearly all died early, and Puti Mary, who lived to seventy-three, and Emmanuel, ninety-three, were before my time. Although they could only have told me how they managed, not how I should.