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Book Review – The Fifth Mrs Brink

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.”

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Book Review

THINGS UNSEEN

Pamela Power

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.