Life’s a beach

12 11 2016

Brazzaville Beach by William Boyd



In the heart of a civil war torn African nation, primate researcher Hope Clearwater made a shocking discovery about apes and man. . . .

Young, alone, and far from her family in Britain, Hope Clearwater contemplates the extraordinary events that left her washed up like driftwood on Brazzaville Beach. It is here, on the distant, lonely outskirts of Africa, where she must come to terms with the perplexing and troubling circumstances of her recent past. For Hope is a survivor of the devastating cruelties of apes and humans alike. And to move forward, she must first grasp some hard and elusive truths: about marriage and madness, about the greed and savagery of charlatan science, and about what compels seemingly benign creatures to kill for pleasure alone.

It’s an intelligent, well-written and nicely paced story. Not sure that the apes and humans parallels really work but nevertheless it is entertaining and worth a read.



A matter of life and death

5 11 2016

The Life and Times of Michael K by J M Coetzee



In a South Africa turned by war, Michael K. sets out to take his ailing mother back to her rural home. On the way there she dies, leaving him alone in an anarchic world of brutal roving armies. Imprisoned, Michael is unable to bear confinement and escapes, determined to live with dignity. This life affirming novel goes to the center of human experience-the need for an interior, spiritual life; for some connections to the world in which we live; and for purity of vision.

A quite outstanding piece of work. Genuinely profound, moving and poignant. Can’t believe it’s taken me quite so long to get round to reading it. Very highly recommended (as indeed are most of Coetzee’s books).

4.5 stars

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