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She just sat there hardly moving, staring at the drive. Black marks formed under her eyes and where her lashes bleed their waxy coating onto her skin. Her rouged cheeks were smudged. Mother looked like she was melting in the heat.
When the rain stops, Faith's father takes to the road as a travelling salesman, leaving Faith and her mother, Bella, alone on their drought-stricken farm in the Northern Transvaal. Together they keenly await his weekend visits, until one day he stops coming altogether and Bella's health begins to decline.
Fifteen years later Bella has died, incarcerated in the Sterkfontein asylum for the criminally insane. Faith has not spoken to her mother for ten years and it on the brink of a breakdown of her own. Now, with her mother's death she inherits the farm... and must return to confront the dark mysteries of the past.
In prose as lithe and imaginative as that of Alexandra Fuller, Rachel Zadok re-creates the voice of a young girl growing up during the height of apartheid unrest in South Africa. As Faith struggles to make sense of the complex world in which she lives and come to terms with the beliefs her society and upbringing have inculcated in her, there emerges a richly compelling, emotionally resonant tale of courage set against the backdrop of a chaotically divided, beautiful country.
I was a little unsure able what to expect from this book, but I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it.
There was a lot more of this book focused on Faith's childhood that you may expect from the back of the book however. This helps set a strong picture of life in South Africa during the apartheid era, and allows the reader to see inside the slow decline of Bella's mental health after her husband left her.
It also shows how a community reacts to such an event - some helping, some taking advantage.
Faith is a confused young girl who, when she becomes an adult and discovers her mother is dead and she has inherited the farm, must go back to face the demons of her past... and in fact discovering some things buried so deep that they are missing from her memory completely.
There is a good twist to this book - I wasn't expecting what happened to happen...
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"A torn jacket is soon mended; but hard words bruise the heart of a child."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882)