(Book received from, and review written for, TripFiction.com)
A gripping excursion into South Africa's past My rating: 5/5
This is a strong story of love and fear, political unrest and safety and finding out what is important in life against a backdrop of apartheid in South Africa.
The main character, Nadine, loves the thrill of chasing a good story to further her reporting career. She thrives on the adrenaline hit of the next story and is not afraid of entering the scary worlds of drugs, wars and unimaginable happenings that many of her colleagues shy away from. Or is she just kidding herself that this manic dangerous lifestyle is what she really wants from life?
Whilst recovering from being attacked in Mexico, Nadine spots an irresistible story unfolding in her old haunts of Cape Town. Dropping everything, and everyone, she rushes off - thus leading the reader into an often disturbing tale of lives and relationships during the ending of the apartheid years.
The story line moves between the now and the past of Nadine's life, gradually discovering what occurred when she was in South Africa previously, and exploring her childhood, and her need to always run to her next reporting adventure. Gradually her life history unfolds, and with it the reasons for her never stopping in one place for long.
There is a gripping side story unfolding along the main storyline, and I found it was hard not to skip ahead with the chapters covering this side story to find out what happens (but I am glad I resisted!) .
Given the setting of Cape Town and the subject of apartheid, there is violence depicted in the novel, but it is well written with just enough detail to let your imagination do the work, and no gratuitous detail. The novel's main characters are graphically drawn, as you are pulled into the contrasting lifestyles in Cape Town at that time.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, headed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu is clearly explained. It allowed victims, or their families, of political crimes to hear the truth about what happened, and the perpetrators of these crimes to be given amnesty in certain circumstances. This TRC is a theme that runs throughout the book, offering no rights or wrongs, just a fascinating look into a different form of justice to that which most readers will be used to.
For the tourist there is little information about Cape Town, however for anyone with an interest in South Africa, or just a good story, this is an unforgettably good read.
I love books that I can get immersed in, and also learn from, and this is one of those books - with an easy going writing style that drew me in, and held my attention throughout. This is a book that explores a difficult, and terrible, part of history, but in a sympathetic manner. The book is one of hope, love and trust, and about finding out what is important in life.