Sylvia!: 2a Biography of Sylvia Ashton-Warner

Lynley Hood, Author, Linley Hood, Author Viking Books $24.95 (296p) ISBN 978-0-670-81937-9
Teacher-novelist Ashton-Warner is revealed in this rich, lively biography as a contradictory figure who, early on, ``was never one to let facts cloud the drama of a good story.'' Although her unorthodox approach to teaching Maori children--formulated on the concept of ``key vocabulary'' based on native imagery--won her international fame as an innovator, Ashton-Warner frequently expressed her dislike of teaching. This biography, the first book by New Zealand freelancer Wood, supplies factual evidence as to the parallels between Ashton-Warner's ambivalence in areas of her own life and that of the heroines of her novels, especially the bestseller Spinster. We're shown that life on her own terms was a condition set down by Ashton-Warner. She was born in 1906 into an eccentric New Zealand family; she combined a nontraditional marriage with an erratic career as teacher-writer. She thrived on love-hate relationships, was a deeply restless woman, flirtatious even in old age, alcoholic and, yet, as her biographer demonstrates, strangely charismatic. Photos. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
Paperback - 264 pages - 978-0-14-300883-5
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