The Open Accounts of an Honesty Box by Julie Helean


When Jinx is made redundant from her job teaching construction at the tech, she leaves the city, desperate for some time in the country. But the women in the backwater town Jinx settles in need a public toilet built and in desperation they approach her for help. Determined to move on after a short stay, she discovers a conspired to keep her in town.

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Things are heating up in Easy, a Central Otago town. After lobbying unsuccessfully to get their desperately needed public toilet, the women of Easy give up on council, conspiring to build it themselves. There’s civic pride at stake, never mind the strained bladders. Luckily Jinx, a visitor in a campervan, has just the right credentials to get them started.

When the town’s unofficial mayoress, Martha, traps her builder in town, she discovers that Jinx, aside from her non-traditional job, is a hard-to manage lesbian with a penchant for rule breaking of every kind. The fact that the building project proceeds without council permits, with an entrapped builder and using stolen materials, is just the start of the pandemonium.

Sawdust and road dust, half-baked construction plans hatched by local women in a Central Otago heat wave – it’s the perfect escape for Jinx, on the run from Auckland and her claustrophobic circle of friends.

This whimsical and delightfully contoured novel showcases – much like a pikelet at an A&P Show – rural New Zealand in all its jammy glory.


An honest account of contemporary issues facing small town New Zealand – radiates warmth and wry affection.  Annabel Fagan

A delightful book. Highly entertaining. Strong characters.  Well written and funny.  Carole Beu Women’s Bookshop, Auckland


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