My friend Robyn Cooper is a born storyteller. She has a quirky way of inhabiting the world that I admire. Whenever I meet up with her, she is bursting with stories that are full of wit, chaos and the joy of being open. She does what most of us try to avoid doing… she allows a kind of chaos to enter her life, instead of plotting and planning to prevent it. It means she keeps an open heart to story and to the people around her.
I first met Robyn when I was in Timaru and she was in Days Bay. I was on my much written about 21-week sojourn to be a writer and Owen Marshall, who had met Robyn, handed me her memoir and suggested I might enjoy reading it – and that I would probably like Robyn seeing as we lived in the same bay.
Her memoir is called ‘Don’t ask her name?’
It is a powerful adoption story from both a mother’s and the adopted children’s experience. The children’s stories are different, because they are from different birth mothers and these encounters are retold with tact, understanding and absolute affirmation. One of the great joys Robyn has shared with me is being present at the birth of one of her grandchildren with the birth mother of her daughter. Two expectant grandmothers sharing the same unbelievable joy.
Robyn’s own personal story has tragedy and yet it also has beautiful romance. I am now friends with Robyn and her husband, Roger. Their love story after the death of Robyn’s first husband is truly perfect romance. It is essentially a tribute to the gorgeous quirky open nature of Robyn that this romance happened. She is open to the world and unafraid to take chances. Roger and Robyn travel together, and share a great love of people and a deep sense of enquiry about the world. He is a scientist and she is a story-teller, a rather perfect combination.
I am hopeful that her memoir will soon be an E-book as it is now out of actual print, but available in many local libraries if you would like to go and find it. For anyone who has adopted children or been adopted it is a warm and life affirming book about this sometimes-difficult journey that is made all the more wonderful by the open heart of the author.
I just found this recommendation on the Wheeler Books website which says the book is no longer available.
This is an “unusual and moving story of adoption in New Zealand (that is unique in its power, scope and warmth. While it is harrowing it is also optimistic, without being sentimental.”
Now, I want to tell you about Robyn’s latest book ‘Snails, spells, and snazzlepops’ written for children.Robyn now has grandchildren and has always been their ‘storyteller. Over the years, she has made up stories for them whenever they came to stay at her house. This innate ability has now been transferred to the page.
An absolute Christmas stocking filler.
I loved it. I bought it for my granddaughter but I read it first. What a wonderful romp of a story! Full of verve, energy and wit. A writer who understands children and adults. The dialogue captures so well the gap between children and adults and how they see the world. It is fast-paced, lightly tripping over big topics like bullying and your mother having a new boyfriend and moves deftly from funny to wise with a dose of magic realism. There is a fabulous granny character who like the author herself, is open to the imagination of the children and willing to go along with their crazy plans which include (close your eyes or block your ears if you are squeamish), cooking snails, but better than that, sorting out the bully. Also, hats off to Makaro Publisher for the lovely production from cover to lay-out and trailing snail through the chapters.