Seven years of reading books from the 1800s paid off at the weekend for Wellington author Lydia Wevers, who launched her new book on Saturday.
Reading on the Farm, Victorian Fiction and the Colonial World is a book about the day-to-day life of the people who lived and worked at Brancepeth Station, near Masterton, as far back as the late 1800s.
From station diaries kept by estate clerk John Vaughan Miller, Ms Wevers was able to find out exactly what it was like to live in the past.
She said Mr Miller kept very detailed diaries about everything from what he ate to who visited the house and what he thought of them.
By looking at over 2000 books kept in the Brancepeth Station library at that time, Ms Wevers discovered what kinds of books the people who worked at the station liked to read. She found the men, who had jobs such as rabbit-hunting, would often read romance novels, a discovery that may seem quite strange to the average person. ''I think they read them because they were lonely, single men at a camp and reading novels that ended in domestic bliss showed they wanted that.''
A lover of 19th century history, the books in the library, as well as the diaries, made for interesting reading for Ms Wevers. She said Mr Miller's diaries were so detailed she almost felt like she was experiencing life in those times.
Ed Beetham, owner of Brancepeth, said it helped that his family have always been hoarders _ or the station diaries may never have lived on to make Ms Wevers' book.
He said he credits Ms Wevers for the extensive research she did to ensure every single line of the book was without error. ''She really worked to bring out the characters of the people at Brancepeth, rather than just the history to give an insight into what life was like in those times.''