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Owen Marshall – Memories of Menton

Jackie and I have fond memories of our time in Menton, and also the wider European travels that the Fellowship made possible. My almost complete incompetence in French denied me the ability to relate meaningfully to people in that language, but folk were understanding. William Rubinstein, a friend to so many K M Fellows, was wonderfully generous with his time and assistance, and William Waterfield and our fellow Kiwi Gordon Stewart also made us welcome. I visited the beaches and casinos, but it was the mountain villages of the Alpes-Maritimes that drew me back again and again. I would take the small bus to Gorbio, La Turbie, Castellar and especially St Agnes, and walk into the hills. Jackie and I spent several days in the Vall`ee de la Roya and wish we had stayed longer. I wrote in the garden room at the Villa Isola Bella, with the ghost of K M and previous Fellows about me, and also in the Palais Lutetia apartment with its period atmosphere and fine balcony view over the town. I was working on a novel, `Harlequin Rex,' set in the Marlborough Sounds, and was aware of incongruity sometimes as I typed away on the other side of the world with the Mediterranean close by. I enjoyed the immersion in an ancient, rich culture, and also a new perspective on the lifestyle of my own country. What a splendid opportunity the Fellowship provides for a New Zealand writer and how glowing it all is now in retrospect. I consider myself fortunate indeed to have had the opportunity and thank all those responsible for providing.

- Owen Marshall. Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellow of 1996.

Owen Marshall image courtesy Otago Daily Times