Frances Samuel Sleeping on a Hay Stack | Book Review | Professionelle

By reviewed by Pamela Bell

Here are three books by working mothers that you may like to delve into – something reflective by Frances Samuel from Wellington, something uplifting by Emma Wright from Waiheke Island, and something hilarious by Caitlan Moran from Wolverhampton in the UK. Enjoy!

Sleeping on Horseback – Frances Samuel

Frances Samuel_257x189Frances is mother to two young children, and works at Te Papa Museum of New Zealand crafting exhibition text. It is a fine art to balance the audience’s interest levels and attention spans while doing justice to the intellectual integrity of the work on display.

I have had first-hand experience working with Frances during the development of the ‘Kiwi Prefab: Cottage to Cutting Edge’ exhibition that showed at Puke Ariki Museum in New Plymouth for four months in the summer 2012-13. Frances managed to take my middle-of-the-road academic-for-public writing and turn it into snappy and specific sound bites – quite a feat!

What I hadn’t realised is that between mothering two pre-schoolers and pursuing a career, she was writing poetry – impressive!!

Frances’ work has appeared in several online and print publications, with her first book of poetry ‘Sleeping on Horseback’ launched in 2014 to great reviews – I personally bought copies for my nearest and dearest. I don’t know anything about poetry, but there is something simple, magical and ultimately uplifting about these powerful wee poems.


I am selecting stones
to place in front of you.

Penguins do this
to express their desire

& since my message
has not reached you

thus far

I drop these smooth weights
warm from discovery

& leave them arranged
like a miniature henge

ready to capture the sun.

Bill Manhire writes,

I love the rich feel of Frances Samuel’s poems. Strange things happen. Yet the poet’s exotic elsewheres constantly dissolve into the local, into the day-to-day world where we also lead our lives.

‘Sleeping on Horseback’ is available for $25 through Unity Books and Victoria University Press

Feel Good Friday – Emma Wright

Feel Good Friday book coverI first met Emma when looking to rebrand the snow clothing company that my aunt and I set up in the late 1990s – Fruition snow system. She was ensconced in a flash design firm spanning the top floor of a building in Wellington’s Cuba quarter. Later on I found out she was the sister of an architect friend and that she loved road cycling. We went on lots of rides around Wellington’s southern bays circuit and she taught me a bunch of etiquette on riding which put me in good stead.

Emma left the corporate design world and followed her passion into art, applying her knowledge of how to craft a branding story, with her new-found passion for oil painting. This combo meant that she understood the power of good media, web presence and words right from the beginning of her art foray.

The words soon made their way onto the canvas – and after meeting the man of her dreams (yes!) and having two gorgeous children – the words manifested as a personal blog titled ‘Feel Good Friday’. Earlier this year, the blog became a self-published e-book and has made its way to #3 on Amazon in its category. In a word, amazing!

Here’s an excerpt:

Wisdom includes heart and mind. It starts with love and takes everyone with it. It asks. It listens. It admits when it’s wrong. It doesn’t judge, bully, dominate, or rule. It’s never good, and it’s never bad. Wisdom simply is. It has the power to transform. Transform individuals, families, communities. Heck, let’s change the whole planet. That is its power.
And the very best thing about focusing on wisdom is this: We. All. Have. It.

And a review from a reader on Amazon:

“The tips for feeling good are so practical, accessible and really work. The beauty is in the simplicity and down to earth nature of this book. Super easy to read, enjoy and apply. Highly recommend!”

You can find Emma’s work and new 28 Days of Goodness Email Course (starting May 1 for $14) at her websiteand the e-book at Amazon.

How to be a Woman – Caitlin Moran

I devoured Caitlin Moran’s 2011 non-fiction memoir “How to be a Woman” – she is a fierce and completely fabulous feminist. If you aren’t familiar with her work, this tea-towel (sold on her website with profits going to charity) sums it up neatly:

The 5 rules of feminism…

1. Women are equal to men

2. Don’t be a dick

3. That’s all

Caitlin Moran How to be a WomanI was laughing out loud to so many parts of her best-selling book – especially loving her comment on the problem with the so-called ‘glass ceiling.’  She puts forward that women below it can’t see it (being glass and all…) so if a few birds could fly above it and shit on it so that the rest of us below it could see where it was, then that would go a long way to solving the issue. Too simple!
Of course, as I was laughing out loud in bed one night, I had to explain it to my husband. His response? What’s the ‘glass ceiling’? Ridiculous I know – and more reason to get those birds up there.

Caitlin Moran is not only an English broadcaster, TV critic and columnist at The Times, but also a mother of two daughters. It follows that her next book is a semi-autobiographical novel titled “How to Build a Girl”. This is what the critics say:

“The novel is an entertaining read, with Moran in fine voice – hilarious, wild, imaginative and highly valuable.” (The Guardian – Barbara Ellen)

You can find out more at her website.

And Katherine Mansfield…

And to finish, my favourite Katherine Mansfield quote, three small things of great importance and inspiration for the middle third of the year:

Risk anything! Care no more for the opinion of others … Do the hardest thing on earth for you.” (Journal entry, 14 October 1922)

Here’s to fabulous women writing words of wisdom and inspiration!!



Pamela Bell is Chief Executive of PrefabNZ – the front-door for prebuilt design and construction in New Zealand. An infatuation with the ‘power of three’ is reflected in her love of design (great houses for all), sport (snowboarding… fast), and family (more 3s – Sophie, Tessa and Tim).

Trackbacks and pingbacks

No trackback or pingback available for this article.

Leave a reply