The parents and seven children of the Ottley-Karena family live in an isolated and rural part of New Zealand with their horses. The children are given a lot of freedom, from swimming on their own to learning how to hunt food for the family to helping their dad break in horses. This Way of Life follows on from a 2009 documentary of the same name and contains plenty of pictures.

I’m liking

I love reading about different families’ ways of life! The book is fascinating and sometimes I wish we all still lived like that – less stress about buying the right toys, about babyproofing the house, about ‘am I playing with my children enough?’! I particularly enjoyed the photography, which showcases both the family and some magnificent NZ scenery.

It made me think about how we treat children – whether we worry too much about doing things a special way, or changing our life to fit round them, when it should be the other way around. I firmly believe that children are capable of a lot more than we give them credit for.

Also, after reading A Wife on Gorge River (about a family living at least two days’ tramp from the nearest road, let alone civilisation), the Ottley-Karenas’ lifestyle seemed not only do-able, but almost mainstream!

Things that made me go hmmmm

The first chapter in this book is written in the present day, but the succeeding chapters tell an unfolding story starting from a number of years ago (you can mostly tell by how old the children are at any stage). As no dates are given, this can be really confusing and you don’t know when each chapter is set.

The language is pretty informal, and I found it more suitable to conversation than to a book at times.

The conclusion

A wonderful read for families – I think the pictures would lend themselves to discussion with children even if they aren’t up to reading the text.


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Write A Comment