These Two Hands: a memoir by Renée

These two hands cover

ISBN 978-0-9941378-4-5
October 2017
B format, paperback with flaps, 416pp
Cover image by Penny Howard
Author image by Claudia Latisnere
RRP $38

Permanently Out of Print 



Iris: I remember when Dad died we stayed up all night. About one in the morning Mum made scones. Crazy the things you do —

Ted: Like singing round a coffin?

Iris: Hang around Ted – that’s just the start.

Renée was born grumpy (Ngāti Kahungunu/Scot) and nothing has changed. She is an avid and faithful reader, who enjoys cooking and gardening. Everyone, she says, should grow leafy greens.

Renée always thought she would die at forty-two but for some reason this didn’t happen. Instead, at fifty she started to write plays and novels and at eighty-eight considers herself very lucky to still have most of her marbles. 

She has written eight novels and over twenty plays, with Wednesday To Come perhaps her most loved work.

Renée author photo

Photo by Claudia Latisnere

Renée lives in Ōtaki and teaches her Your Life, Your Story and her Poem a Week workshops there.

This is her life, her story, told in patches, like a quilt. One for every year of the life she’s lived so far. 


I was born in Napier on Friday, 19 July 1929, and the world went into a deep depression. Then Napier fell down. Two years after that my father shot himself. He was from Gore. Drama didn’t just follow me, it came out and met me with a big tah-dah.

There were four of us and we had four chairs. Each chair was wooden but each was different. Unless we were trying to pick a fight, no kid ever sat on another kid’s chair. And no kid ever dared to sit on Rose’s chair. Our mother’s name was Rose. One way to make her angry was to call her Rosie. She said it made her sound like a barmaid. Once, Cliff banged his empty glass on the table and said, ‘Who shot the barman, Rosie?’ and had to wait a long time before his glass was filled. He never did it again. Rose’s ability to hold a grudge was like an ember dropped in a green forest. It smouldered steadily until one day – whoosh – the whole forest went up in flames and everyone in the vicinity ran like hell.


“A patchwork – funny, sad, wry – stitching together a quilt of many colours.”
Patricia Grace

“Renée is witty, irreverent, intelligent, moving and utterly inspiring. I defy you to read her memoir and not want to claim your own life with words, passion and delight. These Two Hands is a tonic and a treasure, like its author.”
Sue Wootton, Corpus

This is a treat.”
Roger Hall