A book cover on a blue background.

Come Back to Mona Vale: book talk by Alexander McKinnon

The author's story behind discovering the stories of life and death in a Christchurch mansion.


Kate Sheppard House

83 Clyde Road
Christchurch 8041

+64 3 341 1360

Come Back to Mona Vale is a memoir that traces the fate of various members of Alexander McKinnon's mother’s family, the Goughs, who were the last private owners of Mona Vale in the 1940s and 50s.

Book reviewer, Emma Neale, states "McKinnon's speculations over the changes in the family path or fortune read a little like a crime narrative, but perhaps the term 'archival psychologist' is more apt, as he tries to divine a sense of character from incomplete records of his complicated ancestry... Come Back to Mona Vale is told with a graceful touch and an eye for the vivid, comic and telling detail."

In this talk by the award-winning author, learn about his research process, structuring and publication of the book, as well as interesting stories about the family.

Alexander McKinnon went to school at Christ’s College followed by university abroad. He lives in Wellington with his family. He won the Landfall Essay Prize in 2020. Come Back to Mona Vale is his first book and was longlisted for the 2022 Ockham NZ Book Awards.