Thursday, April 22, 2010

A delightful read

I managed to read three books during our recent break...but this one was, by far, the most delightful read that I have had in a very long time.  I snorted, I giggled and laughed so hard that my stomach hurt and tears streamed down my face.  What makes it even better, is that this is the life story of the writer.

Without giving away too much, the story centers around Annica (the writer), a young mother in the sixties in South Africa.  She is married to a much older man, an inventor always on the edge of making a breakthrough, who unexpectedly hits financial ruin.  His solution to this is to rent a ‘pondokkie’ in the country, curb their spending and recover from his disaster.

Her new home is set on a 2.5 acre plot of khakibos and blackjacks.  She has to adjust to a typical ‘farming’ way of life – a borehole that was sabotaged by a previous tenant, a windmill and no inside ablutions.   No electricity or running water. If they needed to "go" they did so with a spade whilst hiding in the khakibos.  The joys of an Aga (wood-fired)  stove....and all this in the middle of the winter. She makes a decision that she will tame this piece of ground, have a garden and a lawn...and goes to astonishing lengths to make a compost heap.

The characters she encounters along her journey are what make the book as delightful as it is. It starts with her gay friend,  May, her very forward ‘maid’ and closest friend.  The black sangoma who lives next door. The Jewish pig farmer, the Pom neighbour and the Indian shop owner.

I think one of the reasons I so enjoyed this book is because to an extend I can still recall the mid 60's when I was a 6 year old. Her vivid description of Eloff Street in Johannesburg and all the stores of that time, brings everything to life. She has a way of drawing you into her story and you can taste, smell and see exactly what she is talking about. A lot of delicious Afrikaans words and phrases are used...and I again realised that there is just no words to describe or translate some of our choice Afrikaans words. This is a book I could not put down once I started reading, and a book I enjoyed up to the last page.  I cannot wait to buy the sequel.


  1. I love books but find it so hard to read anything that is not REAL LIFE - I seem to be missing out on lots by the sounds of things, hearing how much fun you had reading this book.

  2. Sorry Marcelle, I forgot to add that this is the real life story of the writer:-)

  3. This is the most delightful book - you must read the sequel. We've interviewed her on the bookclubblog - it was like reading about my own life on the farm!

    I have the sequel if you want to borrow!

  4. Shayne...I am going to take you up on that offer....when I looked for a quick way to say as much as possible about the book, I found your review under the Book Club Blog and just embellished a tad;-)

  5. That sounds like an interesting book. I need to check it out.Thanks for sharing, Lynette.
    Betty xx

  6. Loved this book! Did you read her interview at the Book Club Blog? She was just as delightful in that as she was in her books.
    And def get the sequel from Shayne!

  7. You really did an awesome review.
    Your enthusiasm is quite catchy.

  8. Gee, thanks for the tip, Lynette - I lurve books that make me laugh out loud

  9. I am writing this down in my books to read list.


  10. Thanks for this review. I've been trying to read more local books. So far the only local books I've enjoyed are by Antjie Krog. The other South African books I've read were just pathetic.

  11. I will order this one on amazon, thanks xox

    PS I am soooo glad you got to laugh out loud.

  12. thx! WIll deffo read that. Have you read Mao's last dancer yet? You will love it!


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