Author(s): Ruth Pettis
This is the second of two novels by the late Diane (Ruth) Pettis, who died in mid-2008. Beautifully written, it deals with the devastating impact of World War II on George, a New Zealand soldier who spent four years in Italy and Africa, his wife Ellen, and their family. George returns home from the war traumatised by his experiences and retreats into a rage-filled silence. Ellen, meanwhile, has had a relationship with another man and borne a child. But not until the mid-fifties does a desperately unhappy Ellen snap and finally leave her husband. Years later, her daughter travels through Italy trying to make sense of her father's experiences. The First Touch of Light is a powerful story of war and grief and loss. It is also a New Zealand love story, and an engaging portrait of a marriage under impossible stress as a result of the experiences of war. First published March 2009.
The late Diane (Ruth) Pettis died in mid-2008. This is her second and final novel. The first, Like Small Bones, was published by Hazard Press in 2004 and was shortlisted for the Best First Book section in the Asia Pacific region for the Commonwealth Writers Prize. She was a successful journalist and documentary script writer for the Natural History Unit, and her short fiction and poems have been widely published. She held the Burns Fellowship at Otago University in 2006.