Hello Fellow Traveller

Plotting to Belong

Jenny Robin Jones spent long enough in her country of birth to get a taste for it. Apple puree, mother’s milk and marmite were the main flavours before she was whisked over the other side of the world at the age of three. Then it was a diet of ancient castles, labourer’s footpaths and unfailing politeness, culminating in a degree in sociology before another about-turn to the land of milk and honey where she found herself teaching children dubbed Māori and Pākehā. It was her home country but she didn’t know its history and had no social networks. Where did she belong? Did she need to belong anywhere? It was a long winding road to find out….

One, Two, Three

First book, Writers in Residence, traced the steps of her writing forbears – visitors and pioneers who began writing in New Zealand and became its early writers.

Second book, No Simple Passage, traced the steps of her great, great grandparents and their fellow passengers aboard The London in 1842.

The illnesses, hardships, but also enormous hope of the adventurers. The hardships, setbacks, but also unconquerable spirit of the new settlers.

Third book, Not For Ourselves Alone, traces belonging in a much wider context – for people everywhere and through time. Jenny uses her own experience to track how in the modern world we develop a sense of belonging via our individual self.

A New Story

She finds belonging under attack as never before. The overblown cult of the individual can leave people lonely or alienated from those around them. Society offers salvation by shopping and the single-minded pursuit of profit, but a feeling of emptiness often persists. In conversation with friends and family members, the author records how those dear to her are finding their own ways to belonging in spite of difficult circumstances. In essence they are replacing the twentieth century story of ourselves as either self-interested individuals or simple herd animals by a narrative with kindness, compassion and inclusion at its heart.

Not For Ourselves Alone: Belonging in an Age of Loneliness is out now.