Review: Myrna Robins
GREENFEAST by Nigel Slater (4th Estate)
Let’s start with the design of this hardback, which does not resemble a cookbook at all. Shocking pink cover, featuring a swathe of gold, a single brushstroke by artist and calligrapher Tom Kemp which, he points out, are not pictures or representing anything, but a small aside to remind readers about the “nature of nature… where ultimately the food in this book comes from”.
Glued on to this hard cover is a half-page, glossy red, listing author and title on the front, and a photo and quote from the author on the back.
Unconventional. Intriguing. But as every foodie knows, we can rely on Nigel Slater to produce another title that features his simple prose that is English culinary writing at its brilliant best. Seldom prescriptive yet always thorough, so that beginner cooks are guided unobtrusively to success. An occasional command: “Don’t even think of using horseradish from a jar.” Continue reading
Review: Archie Henderson
The Barefoot Coach: Life-Changing Insights from Coaching the World’s Best Cricketers. By Paddy Upton (Self-published).
Paddy Upton worked with two of the best cricket teams in the world, South Africa and India. He was fitness trainer for the former and mental coach to the latter. Was it any wonder, then, that India won a World Cup and South Africa didn’t?
South Africa’s cricket team, the Proteas, one of the fittest teams in the world, are famous for having lost World Cups in their head as well as on the field. At the most recent World Cup, they lost on both, but that is another story. This is about an extraordinary man who delved deeper into sport than most, and discovered that motivating athletes was no different from doing the same with the athletes of business, a path he is now pursuing.
Upton, a pretty good cricketer himself, had ambitions of becoming a sports scientist, which was how he was recruited by Cricket SA in the first place. He worked with the team during Hansie Cronje’s era as captain, then abruptly left to broaden his horizons beyond sport. This entailed backpacking through Asia and joinning an NGO in Cape Town to work with homeless youths. It opened his eyes to life beyond cricket. Continue reading
Review: Vivien Horler
Blood on her Hands – South Africa’s most notorious female killers, by Tanya Farber (Jonathan Ball)
One late afternoon in 1974, when I was 22, I went with my boyfriend to visit his brother Rob in the boarding house where he lived behind St Paul’s Church in Rondebosch.
Rob hadn’t been in the boarding house long, and his initial relationship with his co-residents was bedevilled by the fact that soon after he moved in, someone’s portable radio had been stolen. As he was the newest resident, suspicion fell on him.
Rob, an engineering student, had also been a victim of crime in the boarding house. He had a pistol, which he kept locked in his wardrobe. One day it disappeared.
We hadn’t been in Rob’s room long when a slim young fellow resident called Marlene strolled in. She had shoulder-length hair, lots of eye make-up, and was wearing a Truworths mini-dress. Continue reading
Review: Vivien Horler
Day Zero – one city’s response to a record-breaking drought, by Leonie Joubert & Gina Ziervogel (AXA/ Mapula Trust/ ACDI)
We may not have heard of the small Canadian town of Gibsons, but they have heard of us.
The west coast town near Vancouver, where the long-running series Beachcombers was filmed, relies on snowmelt and the Gibsons Aquifer for its water. But with climate change increasing temperatures in the area, Gibsons is dealing with a multi-year drought.
So in May this year mayor Bill Beamish issued a challenge to its citizens, asking them to live like a Capetonian for a single Sunday, and see what it is like to manage on 50litres of water a person, instead of the average 250l a person Gibsons’ residents use.
Afterwards Beamish told Cape Talk Radio that the challenge had been a success in that many people had taken part and been made aware of the consequences of unbridled water use.
The possibility of a major city seeing its taps run dry made world headlines.
Devotees of The Handmaid’s Tale, both the novel by Canadian writer Margaret Atwood and the prize-winning TV series, will be delighted to know that a sequel, The Testaments, is on the 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction’s longlist of 13 books announced today.
It is set 15 years after the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, but any summary of the story is forbidden until the novel comes out on September 10. The chair of the judges’panel, Hay festival director Peter Florence, was prepared – or allowed – to say only: “Spoiler discretion and a ferocious non-disclosure agreement prevent any description of who, how, why and even where. So this: it’s terrifying and exhilarating.”
This Atwood’s sixth nomination, and if she wins, it will be her second award, after The Blind Assassin in 2000.
Another writer in line for a second award is Salman Rushdie for Quichotte, a novel inspired by Cervantes’s Don Quixote, about an ageing salesman who falls in love with a TV star and drives across the United States to claim her. The judges described it as a “picaresque tour de force of contemporary America”. Continue reading
Review: Vivien Horler
Call the Midwife – a true story of the East End in the 1950s; illustrated edition, by Jennifer Worth (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
I have been an enthusiastic viewer of the TV series Call the Midwife, so when I came across this illustrated edition of the Jennifer Worth’s bestseller, originally published in 2002, I fell upon it with glad cries.
In fact it turns out Worth, known as Jenny Lee when she was a midwife in London’s Docklands, wrote three books, Call the Midwife, Shades of the Workhouse, (2005), and Farewell to the East End (2009). The trilogy has sold almost 2million copies worldwide. Continue reading
Review: Vivien Horler
Marriageology – the art and science of staying together, by Belnda Luscombe (Oneworld/ Jonathan Ball)
There is not much fairytale magic about marriage in South Africa.
In 2016, according to Stats SA, a total of 25 326 marriages ended in divorce. And almost half – 44.4% – of those divorces took place within 10 years of the wedding. Most happened between five and nine years afterwards.
In one case I know of, the couple divorced well before her parents had paid off the wedding.
As we’ve read in dozens of self-help books , marriage has to be worked at, but what exactly does that mean?
Belinda Luscombe, an Australian living and working in New York, has written about and researched marriage for Time magazine for more than 10 years and has picked up some useful information. She has interviewed therapists, sociologists, demographers and researchers, read many studies, journals and books. And she got married. Continue reading
Review: Vivien Horler
Verwoerd – my journey through family betrayals, by Wilhelm Verwoerd (Tafelberg)
Most whites with a modicum of sense will acknowledge that almost 30 years after apartheid began to be dismantled, they are still advantaged.
And so are their children, even children born today. It’s what the often tiresome trade unionist and former city councillor Tony Ehrenreich correctly refers to as the apartheid generational advantage.
But what is a white person to do? How do you acknowledge the harm that has been done in your name and that of fellow whites, and move on? Is it possible to move on?
If you’ve ever grappled with this, spare a thought for Wilhelm Verwoerd, grandson of the man often referred to as the architect of apartheid, Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd.
He has found himself torn by his rejection of his grandfather’s beliefs and actions, and his love for his family; despite the subtitle of this painful memoir, it is dedicated to “my family”. How do you reconcile these polar opposites? Continue reading
Reviewer: Archie Henderson
War and Peace, by Nigel Hamilton (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Winston Churchill, so the legend goes, said that history would treat him kindly for he intended to write it. Even if he never actually said it, he did write it. His six volumes of The Second World War, which won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953, has long been a standard reference for historians and World War 2 buffs.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, his friend, ally and often sparring partner in the war, did not get the same treatment, dying in February 1945 relatively young at 63, before the war ended and before he got the chance to tell his side of the war. Nigel Hamilton has recently completed what amounts to Roosevelt’s memoirs, a three-volume work, FDR at War.
War and Peace is the final volume, with the sub-title FDR’s Final Odyssey: D-Day to Yalta 1944-45. The first volume was The Mantle of Command: FDR at War 1941-42, followed by Commander in Chief: FDR’s Battle with Churchill 1943. Continue reading