Sylvia Ashton-Warner had been writing fiction and publishing short stories for many years before Spinster burst on to the New Zealand and international literary scene in 1958. Ostensibly the story of a single teacher working in a largely Maori school, Spinster is also an account of Anna Vorontosov’s emotional involvement with her pupils, a fellow teacher, the inspector whoSylvia Ashton-Warner had been writing fiction and publishing short stories for many years before Spinster burst on to the New Zealand and international literary scene in 1958. Ostensibly the story of a single teacher working in a largely Maori school, Spinster is also an account of Anna Vorontosov’s emotional involvement with her pupils, a fellow teacher, the inspector who praises her reading scheme, and the shadowy lover Eugene....
|Number of Pages||:||242 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
This book is about a lady who teaches a group of mainly Maori children in New Zealand but tries to teach them to read in the conventional English way until she hits upon a new style of teaching where she gets them to relate to words that they are really passionate about. This only really starts to happen in the last quarter of the book unfortunately and for most of it I found it fairly average. Probably worth reading just for the new teaching style she brings in near the end of the school.
[These notes were made in 1984; I read the Penguin, 1961 ed.:] Moira Whalon gave me this for my 25th birthday - one spinster to another! I found it difficult to get into, as I do most stream-of-consciousness narratives, the messy flow of apparently undifferentiated detail irritating my would-be-orderly soul. Nonetheless, this turns out to be quite a crafted book. An unconventional infant-school teacher in Maori New Zealand is recovering from a breakup with a fellow named Eugene, attracted by a young but clinging fellow-teacher named Paul, and haunted by the shadow of an inspector. She is also vaguely but continuously unhappy about the state of the education in her classroom of mostly Maori children - she is searching for a "key." Well, Paul turns into an alcoholic and eventually kills himself, having first made a local girl pregnant, a fact our narrator - Anna Vorontosov is her name - never consciously admits to herself. The inspector (Abercrombie), when he finally arrives, prove to be supportive, not intimidating, and encourages Anna in her unconventional teaching methods, especially when she discovers her "key." It seems that Matawhero and Wiki and Hinewaka, and all the other children we have come to know, have certain 'key' words which carry a great emotional punch: are "captions" for an inner landscape of love or fear. So Anna sets out to find these key words for each child, and finds that they are much more easily read and written, and often clear the emotional channels. Inevitably, the crash comes: Anna still does not get a good grading as a teacher, and her mental romance with the inspector crashes in ruins. A letter from Eugene arrives opportunely, and she flees back to him. I found this last half of the book -dealing with education - very much the best.
Anna Vorontosov is 'a woman of forty-four' p.46 or 'a woman of thiry-four' p.46 or very old as in the 'vague fifties' p.49. The book's style reflects her frame of mind. In the beginning the thoughts are chaotic. She is likely to think, I will do A, and then immediately we find that instead she has done B. She is an unreliable narrator throughout so sometimes we are not even sure what she did; we only know the confusion of thoughts and reasoning that flood her consciousness. The narrative clears and she gives up her half glass of brandy before school, so I advice readers to stick with it in the most difficult early part.She is torn three ways. (1) by a strong desire and fear to be a great teacher for her mixed white, yellow, and brown 'infant' pupils. The whites are the dregs as most parents have pulled their children from this mostly Maori school where 'infants' begin classes at the age of five. The yellow, those of mixed parentage are accepted by neither side of adults. (2) by a love of the arts and culture. She plays classical piano, watercolors, reads poetry, and writes. "Where is the austerity, the simplicity, the purity and the sanctity of the engaged artist?" p.144 (3) by her struggle with the passionate woman within who does not want to be a spinster.
As a new teacher this book was comforting. Sylvia Ashton-Warner is modest and vulnerable. She is a keen observer of her young Maori students- her teaching is inspired by their natural curiosity and individuality. Her writing was a little sticky at times- she would sometimes lose my attention. However, I felt I could relate to her need for a glass of brandy at time before going heading to school.
Spinster is the first person story of a middle-aged single woman who is a grade school teacher in a primarily Maori school in New Zealand. She often starts the day with a glass of brandy and has very non-standard teaching methods. The book didn't draw me in like I had hoped it would, but it was definitely told from a unique narrator's perspective.
Not a fan of this one, sad teacher has a kind of romance with another sad teacher, frets about administrators, and acts as a mouthpiece for the authors ideas about educating Maori Children. Dour, dull.
A very introspective story as well as creative ways of teaching to child's culture.
I read 80+ pages before I gave up on this. I wanted to like the story, but the teacher is portrayed as so dreary. Nothing came alive for me.
Really liked it. It gave a real sense of the time and place of the book's setting.