When I began reading The Lodger I was unaware that this debut was a blend of fact and fiction. The name HG Wells and then mention of Virginia Woolf (yes I am that dense reader!), made me realize that Louisa Treger was referencing an author as her main character. This added a new dimension to my reading.
Dorothy Richardson falls in love with soon-to-be famous author HG Wells. The affair with her best friend’s husband causes much guilt for Dorothy but she cannot seem to control the pull she feels towards Bertie.
Set in early 20th century Bloomsbury, Dorothy is stuck in her grief for her mother who died by suicide, guilt about not being able to save her, a dead-end job and poverty. Bertie makes her London life sound grand, taking delight in her descriptions of the most banal events and characters. Dorothy saves up stories which are embellished for Bertie’s interest to share over the weekends she spends with the couple.
With no one to confide in about her illicit affair, Dorothy soon finds a soulmate in a new boarder, beautiful Veronica Leslie-Jones, an active member of the Suffragette Movement. Finally someone to unburden herself to, she quickly becomes intimate with Veronica. The juggling of these intimacies become more complicated when Dorothy discovers she is pregnant.
Dorothy’s creative and sexual awakening is as powerful as the movement in which Veronica champions for the right of women to vote.
‘Am I a pioneer or an oddity? Either way , it feels like pushing boulders up a mountain. I can’t seem to take the easy path in my writing or in my life.’
‘You’re a brave woman. Actually, you’ve struck a much more successful blow for our sex than I ever did trying to get a vote. I always knew you could do it.’
I love it when a writer leaves the reader intrigued to discover more about the facts of the subject matter. Louisa Treger has succeeded in doing just that with Dorothy Richardson!
Delilah Now Trending
Pamela Power’s novel has done it again, given me a protagonist I’ve fallen in love with!
Delilah is witty, snarky and absolutely sparkles in Delilah Now Trending. The author has shone a light into the female mind (as she did in Ms Conception). Lilah is tough and vulnerable. Her relationship with the gorgeous widow almost ends when she second guesses his care during her illness (after all … didn’t he care for his dying wife in the same way?). Lilah wants to be special, and don’t we all hanker for that?
Having endured a marriage and divorce to the idiot Christopher and building herself up from scratch, Lilah as a single mom is a force to be reckoned with.
Daisy, Lilah’s daughter, is accused of pushing long-time rival Rosie off the balcony at school. While Rosie lies in a coma, Lilah is forced to deal with accusations against her daughter and loads of drama in her personal life.
The novel explores themes of bullying, teens and social media, parental pressure in academics and race relations that are always tinged with apartheid’s past.
With a cast of characters that had me in fits of laughter – Portia, Lilah’s right hand on the home front, Cas her best friend and lawyer and Henry her business partner, Delilah Now Trending will keep you in just the right amount of suspense.
The narrative is told through different characters’ voices. Cathleen, Farhana and Zee, the younger characters embroiled in drugs, alcohol and unsafe sex. The older ones Flora, Frank and Runyararo navigating a space which is too wide with too much left unsaid. This is a novel which could be playing out right now in more homes than we care to think about.
Set in Parkview, north of Johannesburg, the relationship between the family and the domestic help is accurately caught. The familial and romantic relationships which are progressing are described poignantly and with great sensitivity.
The writing echoes the sadness and loneliness which become ‘normal’ when we live past each other.
The reality of living in a society where crime is almost an everyday occurrence and the effects of the psychological stress is clearly seen in Frank’s actions. Between the environmental dangers and his grief, he is responsible for setting into motion a series of events which lead to the complete breakdown of his family.
Ameera Patel captures the vulnerability of each character in a way which punches you in the gut.
A highly recommended read.
Karina M. Szczurek
The Fifth Mrs Brink is a memoir of grief, love, life and loss.
Karina Szczurek’s story begins with diary entries immediately after the death of her husband André P Brink. The grief is raw, taking its toll on her physically and emotionally. The memoir is a searingly honest account of life before André, during her marriage and after his death.
The love which they shared is something many of us dream of. I would not have guessed that André had such a soft and caring side. His immediate search for Rudolf the Bear in the wee hours of the morning brought tears to my eyes. His caring for Karina during bouts of pain, a testament to a love that ran deep.
They also shared a passion for tennis, rugby and chocolate, which is a running theme throughout the memoir (as are the trio Mozart, Salieri and Glinka!). She writes about André as a husband, friend, lover and cook. I especially loved the image of André as a ‘speedster’ driver, and the delightful ‘Brink Mobile’ found a special place in my heart.
With an age gap of 42 years, the connection between these two souls is almost magical. Karina writes about their first meeting at the airport in Vienna : “Call it coincidence. I call it fate.” and “Like Don Quixote his Dulcinea, André made me possible.”
Karina admits to having a thing for numbers. I must admit there was something uncanny about the dates which crop up in the book : Karina proposed to André on 06/02/2006; they married on 20/06/2006; and André breathed his last on 06/02/2015.
This is writing which comes from the soul. There are parts which are so deeply personal and intimate that I had to stop reading and breathe. It is a testament not only to a Karina that was, but also an honoring of a love which is so rare : “Our kind of sharing is a treasure that I am most unlikely ever to find again.”
After reading the author’s debut novel, the hilarious Ms Conception, I was curious to see how the psychological thriller Things Unseen would be given voice by Pamela Power.
Set in a Johannesburg suburb, Westcliff, the novel opens with the gruesome murder of an elderly woman. This whodunnit uses the paranoia that South Africans feel about crime rather humorously- the first suspects usually are the gardener or domestic.
Emma, whose mother is the victim, is not convinced that the Zimbabwean gardener committed a hate crime and is determined to be a modern day ‘Nancy Drew’.
She also has to deal with issues of infertility and a spouse who is rigorously unfaithful. Added to the scene are an ex-lover and brother who has never grown up. In both her novels, Ms Power has gifted her protagonist, with the support of girlfriends who are always rallying support.
Things Unseen is an enjoyable, humorous novel, with twists and turns in the most unexpected places. It is fast paced with a tight cast of characters and suspects. I can’t wait for the next novel from this talented author.