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The Bone Woman

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the bone woman

My fourth book for this year was not a particularly light read.  I can’t imagine digging up bodies for a living.  As a nurse I’ve seen dead bodies, but those bodies aren’t ones that have been cut up with machetes, as in Rwanda in 1994 or shot during the Bosnian War in the 90’s.  I’ve had people say to me “I can’t imagine being a nurse and doing what you have to do.”  Well, I can’t imagine doing what people like Clea Koff do.  Each to their own and respect to the likes of her for doing it.  It was interesting reading the Amazon reviews for the book.  She got some flak for not showing enough emotion and for being too over confident.  Well, when you are working in a church that has bloody hand prints on the walls, I would say one would need to be able to distance ones self from letting it get to you, in order to do your job professionally.  How do people know what she goes through in private, and what emotion she feels – she wrote about her nightmares, I’d say that’s emotion.  Considering she was in her early twenties when she began in Rwanda, she was young, and then she wrote the book ten years or so later, I would reckon that anthropology is not a common career choice for young people, so I’m not surprised that some people thought she was over confident.  I’ve read a fair bit about Rwanda but not much the Bosnian War.  I found the part about hospital staff and patients getting taken out of the hospital, and forced into trucks and taken to their deaths, particularly chilling.  Not to mention people being hacked to death in a church.  Mankind at it’s absolute worst.  Again, not a light read, but in some ways by reading a book like that, one is hopefully keeping the memory alive, of all those innocent people who lost their lives unnecessarily, murdered in absolute cold blood.

Leaving Before The Rains Come

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leaving before the rains I have read Alexandra Fuller’s previous memoirs and the best was her first, Don’t Lets Go To The Dogs Tonight where she writes boldly about her family tragedies while she was growing up in Zimbabwe and then Zambia.  Her two other books after that were Scribbling the Cat and Cocktail Hour Under The Tree of Forgetfulness, which while good weren’t as good as the first. They lived on farm at one point in the seventies, during the height of the war in Rhodesia where it was extremely dangerous to travel around what with the risk of driving over a land mind on the dirt roads or getting attacked by the  “terrs”- the terrorists or the freedom fighters, depending on which side you were on.  In comparison, I grew up at the same time, in a relatively safe town (Marandellas – or Marondera now) and my Dad was very grounded and lived for nearly thirty years in our home there until he died.  Somewhat different to the Fullers.  It wasn’t all plain sailing for my family, we never had a lot of money, and my Dad worked hard to pay the house off over 25 years.  One could say I might have had an almost boring childhood compared to Alexandra Fuller’s, even though we grew up in the same era.

Leaving Before The Rains Come, is more a memoir of her marriage and divorce, how she adjusted to life in America, after she and her husband left Zambia, where her parents had moved, to farm, after they had left Zimbabwe.  The story is interspersed with her memories of growing up in Zambia and it makes for an interesting and good read.

Skop, skiet en donner.

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I can’t believe it’s been well over three months since I last posted here.  I’ve kept meaning to but for various reasons (excuses) haven’t done so.  It’s not for lack of reading.  I guess work and just trying to keep up with life in general have kept me busy, not to mention the stresses that go along with living in South Africa, which have kept my mind somewhat preoccupied recently, but it’s time to stop using those excuses which I believe, correctly or incorrectly, keep me doing what I really want to do and that is doing more of this.  Writing and blogging.

Last year I took up the Goodreads challenge and over optimistically challenged myself to read 52 books.  I would have liked to have read that much, but it was just a bit too much.  So this year I have challenged myself to a more reasonable number of 24 books and so far I am on track.  If I read more, great, but I will make sure I read at least 24.

I won’t say I’ve read any great literary wonders so far this year, but they’ve made for good enough reading.  In keeping with my African roots, so to speak, all four books I’ve read this year have been based in Africa.

place of reeds 2

Read between Christmas & New Year, this is a true story about Caitlin Davies a British woman and her marriage to a mixed race Botswana man, and the challenges she faced, particularly the culture clashes so to speak, and the complex relationships she had with her husband’s family.  Her story also captures the essence of life in southern Africa, especially life in the more isolated villages and towns  and those are the parts of the book I enjoyed the most.  However it draws to a sad end, after Caitlin is raped and how she deals with it and how her family, her in laws in particular, deal with the rape and with her.  The end, I find is particularly sad, and I do hope life has been better to her and her daughter since then.

dark heart 2

Tony Park is an Australian author who while on safari in South Africa apparently fell in love with country and now writes best selling novels that are based in South Africa.  This one was based around the Rwandan genocide, and the illegal trade in wildlife in Africa.  The book was a good enough adventure/action romp. Maybe somewhat implausible at times, but it kept me going, wanting to know what would happen in the end, so I’m fine with that. As we say in South Africa, it’s a “skop, skiet en donner” story. (meaning “kicking, shooting and beating people up”) If that’s your sort of story, you’ll enjoy it. In some ways he reminded me of Deon Meyer.

The other two I’ll review soon, and hopefully not in several months time!

In the meantime, I’m giving Africa a break and am reading a Neil Gaiman novel – who I’ve never read before.  Different, but it’s got my attention.