Once it seemed to Kathleen Healy that Africa was empty and all of it belonged to her. An aviator, big game hunter and knitting devotee, who once boxed three rounds with Ernest Hemingway, she would land her plane wherever and whenever she chose. She was free with her favours too, and her multitude of lovers embodied the experiences of whites in ...
Once it seemed to Kathleen Healy that Africa was empty and all of it belonged to her. An aviator, big game hunter and knitting devotee, who once boxed three rounds with Ernest Hemingway, she would land her plane wherever and whenever she chose. She was free with her favours too, and her multitude of lovers embodied the experiences of whites in Africa, whose sorry history began with Empire and ended with their hasty departure. My Mother's Lovers is an epic tragicomedy, as dark as the European romancing of Africa. Bitingly funny, outrageously inventive and peopled with a fantastical cast of characters, it shows how the hunger to be loved and to belong affects us all. It is Christopher Hope's masterwork.
Publishers Weekly, 2007-05-21 The sprawling ninth novel from South African Hope (Kruger's Alp, etc.) pursues a son's adoring, adversarial relationship with his legendary mother and with South Africa as it changes over his lifetime. Alexander, born in 1944, returns to postapartheid Johannesburg to distribute the effects of his mother, Kathleen Healey, formerly a devil-may-care Karen Blixen-era big-game hunter. Alexander isn't sure who among the motley "uncles" who floated through his mother's life is his father, and readers see a lot of Kathleen's laissez-faire parenting as young Alexander, in retrospect, is subject to it. As the novel flashes back and forth in time, there's also Koosie, a mixed-race orphan boy taken under Kathleen's wing who later gets swept up in the black power movement. (Alexander becomes an itinerant air-conditioner salesman.) Kathleen, dying of cancer, makes a last-ditch attempt to marry a much younger Cuban refugee of Castro's regime and help spirit him to safety. Later, we meet Cindy, a "Coloured" woman now playing the rich "Jo'burg dolly-bird," who worked with Kathleen at a shelter for handicapped kids and is overwhelmed by Kathleen's personality. Hope allows Kathleen to come through clearly, and individual episodes are suffused with Alexander's lifelong ambivalence. His portraits are skillful, but the novel doesn't fully jell. (Aug.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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