Archives: Book Reviews


    HOT MILK by DEBORAH LEVY   After the success of Swimming Home (short listed for the Booker) Deborah Levy has written another scorching novel, looking at familial bonds, sexuality and exile. This is an atmospheric and tense book, set one stifling summer on the Spanish coast. Sofia, the narrator, is a young woman adrift in her life, an anthropologist working as a barista in London. She has come to Spain with her mother, Rose, who has mortgaged her house to spend time in a sanatorium where she hopes to cure her mysterious paralysis. But is Gomez, the...

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Comfort Reading

Sometimes you have been out of the rhythm of reading and the task of going to a bookshop or looking on Amazon for a new book to read can seem daunting . So you watch TV , trawl the internet or tidy your cupboards and your life becomes smaller and poorer for the lack of a book. I had reason to find some books on my bookshelf for my beauty therapist who ,  since her marriage a year ago , says she has stopped reading. As this was our major source of conversation in those testing times when she...

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A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

As A Little Life  (short listed for the 2015 Booker Prize)begins, you may think you are reading something familiar – a generational story, an epic about love and friendship but the book’s apparent normalcy leads you into something much darker and more disturbing. It is a story about four classmates from an exclusive Massachusetts college who move to New York City seeking fame and success. Broke and adrift, they are kept afloat by their friendship. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; Haitian born JB, a self- centred and sharp tongued artist; Malcolm,a rich, privileged architect and Jude,...

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The History of Loneliness

A few of you may have seen John Boyne at last year’s Franschhoek Literary Festival. He is a gentle, quietly spoken Irishman but he has written a scorching angry novel about the Church’s cover up of the ongoing child abuse by the clergy. “Ireland is rotten. Rotten to the core. I’m sorry, but you priests destroyed it.” This accusation is spoken to Father Odran Yates whose story lies at the centre of the novel.  After a terrible family tragedy, Odran’s mother sees a vision that persuades her that Odran has a God given vocation and she sends him to...

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Of sex and sighs ….

If you are of a certain age and South African, chances are you would have been exposed to Wilbur Smith. He had been to school and university with my dad , so we regarded him as a family member – albeit very exotic. I read his first book When the Lion Feeds as an 11 or 12 year old and yes,  I did go back and back to certain pages…” The dark triangle at the base of her legs”, “the badge of womanhood “and more puzzlingly, her melony breasts had me enthralled. More embarrassingly than any of the sex descriptions...

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What will people say?

What do you know about the Cape Flats? Gangs, drugs and violence might be the answer. In Rehana Rossouw’s beautifully written debut novel, you meet the people who live there. Spanning 10 years, the book tracks the Fourie family who live in Hanover Park, the heart of the Cape Flats. It begins in 1986 and the police are in the townships. The Fouries are trying to raise their children to be decent, to go to school and to rise out of the cycle of poverty. Beautiful Suzette will do anything to escape; Nicky is ambitious and wants to use...

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