Lynette Robinson’s memoir, Where the Rainbow Fell Down, is a thoroughly engaging read, especially the first half which brings into sharp relief the experience of childhood in 1950s New Zealand – the silences, the things that weren’t mentioned, and must not be mentioned.
Robinson came from a particularly dysfunctional family but in many ways it echoes the general societal outlook of that age and is therefore a valuable insight into the building blocks of today’s culture. She writes with the guileless voice of the child that she was throughout this section of the book and this lends great charm to the work, making it both accessible and immediate. I simply couldn’t put it down.
The latter half of the book takes us through a forced marriage and the inevitable lessons of early adulthood. Again, children of the 50s will recognise many of the scenarios Robinson writes about, if not personally, then certainly in the context in which they are set. As she develops maturity and meets a catholic priest who has been uncomfortable for many reasons in the priesthood and who befriends her, Robinson manages to inject the breathlessness of dawning, but impossible love – which in the end is very much made possible. Romantics will adore this section!
One of the strengths of this part of the book is in the illumination of the machinations of the Roman Catholic church – what was required of its ministers and what pressures were exerted to maintain control over them through the 50s and up to the 80s. Both practising and lapsed Roman Catholics will find this section interesting and the book is worthwhile reading for this alone.
As a memoir, this is a thoroughly enjoyable read, and it offers an insight to pre-internet history. For me, the book is a powerful juxtaposing expression of the lack of information that todays technology has made so possible. If we still do not communicate our hearts, at least we have access to the knowledge to help us grow. Then, it didn’t exist, and where it did exist, it was not accessible.
A good read.