A beautifully captured story of two women's lives in the turmoil of Africa. Set on the border between South Africa and an unnamed country, A Blade of Grass tells the story of Marit Laurens, a young woman of British descent, recently orphaned and newly wed, who comes to live with her husband, Ben, on their new farm. As the days pass by peacefully ...
A beautifully captured story of two women's lives in the turmoil of Africa. Set on the border between South Africa and an unnamed country, A Blade of Grass tells the story of Marit Laurens, a young woman of British descent, recently orphaned and newly wed, who comes to live with her husband, Ben, on their new farm. As the days pass by peacefully in this idyllic setting, the old traditions are maintained: Ben and Marit manage the farm, and their black workers cultivate the fields and tend the animals. But when guerrilla violence and tragedy visit their lives, Marit finds herself in a tug of war between the local Afrikaner community that surrounds the farm and the black workers who live on it. Frightened and confused, she turns to the only person who can offer her friendship, a person who is also alone in the world: her maid, Tembi. When Marit stubbornly determines to run the farm with Tembi\'9291s help, the encroaching civil war brings out their conflicting loyalties. The fight for the farm becomes a fight for their lives. As the novel proceeds to its devastating conclusion, it reveal a tale that is both terrifying and hopeful, offering a profound perspective on what it means to be black and white in a country where both live and feel entitlement. A Blade of Grass resonates with lyricism and deep insight, moving beyond its own time and place to become a universal story of the price of freedom.
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I really enjoyed this book about the human side of race and culture in Apartheid era South Africa. I especially like the fact that the book focuses on the female characters and the limitations and challenges they try to endure. Human values of friendship, love and kindness are stretched to the limit and often broken, but in the end seem to endure. All three people I have recommended it to have also considered the book a great read.
Aug 28, 2007
I think the book's synopsis leads the reader to believe there might be a little more action in the story than there really is. However don't let that deter you. The story is mainly of the relationship of two women from different cultures. They both have dealt with the loss of a loved one and learn to work with each other to accomplish a shared goal. Not knowing much about South Africa (especially in the 1970s) I really appreciated the cultural aspects and sociological aspects of this novel. The writing flows easily. I have loaned it to five women and they have all made the statement, "I just couldn't put it down." We all agreed that we didn't like the way it ended but also agreed that it really couldn't have ended another way. (Again, don't let this deter you from reading it). I should say that I did loan it to a male friend and he did not care for it or finish it. Maybe the relationship/friendship aspect between two women did not interest him.
Publishers Weekly, 2003-07-21 By a South African-born former editor of the Literary Review of Canada, this ambitious, overwritten novel strives vainly for lyricism while tepidly conveying the chaos and terror arising out of the struggle between white Afrikaaners and native blacks in the 1970s. From childhood a victim of a country sitting on a powder keg of racial upheaval, 18-year-old Tembi, the housekeeper for a newly wed white farming couple, struggles to find a sense of security, planting the seeds from an exotic fruit her father has sent her from the distant city where he works in a gold mine as military jets buzz ominously overhead. Her mistress, the recently orphaned Merit Laurens-the uneasy bride of a young Brit lured abroad by dreams of becoming a farmer and the offer of cheap government land-suddenly finds herself a widow, with only Tembi to insulate her from the unwelcoming, still half-wild land and the restive, hostile native workers on the farm. Shunned by the white Afrikaaners because she treats Tembi as an equal, Merit rejects their offer to escape the danger of encroaching war, electing to stay on her land because she has nothing else and nowhere to go. The novel plays out as a downward spiral of hopelessness, with the two women suffering unthinkable hardship in the face of almost certain ruin. DeSoto gives little dimension to the South African landscape or the struggle that ravages it, but more serious is his failure to bring his protagonists to convincing life. Merit's tremulous, repetitive musings and Tembi's stoic resolve alter little over the course of the novel, and their stilted, stylized exchanges ("Why are you sad?" "No, I'm happy, Tembi. I'm happy, because you are such a good person") are leached of meaning and substance. 3-city author tour. (Sept. 19) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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