New Zealand’s Greatest Doctor

Book: New Zealand’s Greatest Doctor: Ulric Williams of Wanganui – a Surgeon who became a Naturopath, by Brenda Sampson

Genre: Not exactly a biography, but an account of the work of Dr Williams

Where I got it: Free Kindle download

Briefly, it’s: about the work of Dr Ulric Williams (1890-1971) who was a promoter of natural healing.  “Williams practised conventional medicine for some years, but in 1933–34 he became interested in naturopathy and in the writing and ideas of L. E. Bassett, a local timber merchant and adherent of the ‘science of sevens’. He experienced what he later described as ‘a vision of Christ’, and was convinced he had been treating symptoms rather than causes. Becoming an ascetic and a teetotaller, he promoted his ideas with evangelical fervour, and often in a confrontational manner” (from the Te Ara – Encyclopaedia of New Zealand website).

What I liked: This is an interesting story; amazing to learn about how Williams was silenced by officialdom to the point where radio stations were forbidden to interview him, for example.  He was preaching and practicing many things which we take for granted today.  Some of the healing stories are extraordinary, to say the least.

What I didn’t like so much: The unquestioning, devoted acceptance by the author of everything that Williams said.  It would be more compelling to look objectively at some of the arguments against his case.

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The Garden Party and Other Stories

Book: The Garden Party and Other Stories, by Katherine Mansfield

Genre: Short stories

Where I got it: The Open Door (secondhand bookshop)

Briefly, it’s  a collection of short stories which do not revolve around plot.  Each one is more like a portrait, which draws the reader in by understatement and intimation.  Mansfield “concentrate(s) on one moment, a crisis or a turning point, rather than on a sequence of events” (Goodreads author page).  This is the opposite of “in your face” writing – it is delicate, profound, and most definitely calls for a second reading.  The eight short pages of “The Lady’s Maid”, the last story in this collection, have painted a picture in my mind to which I will return many times.

Anything else: I hadn’t read anything by Katherine Mansfield since school, when one of her stories was on the English curriculum.  (I think it was “The Fly”, which is not in this book).  I didn’t know that she was born and grew up in New Zealand, I thought she was English.