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Posted April 8, 2013
This story takes place during 1832 in Cape Town and the surround
This story takes place during 1832 in Cape Town and the surrounding area, as there is talk of freeing the slaves. Philida is one of these slaves, and the young mother of four children (two still alive). The father of the babies is Francois, the master's son. When Philida charges Francois with fathering her children upon promises (and lies) that they will be together, her life is lost in upheaval.
This was one of those tough stories. I generally love stories about slavery and the struggle for survival and freedom, but the clipped and rambling speech pattern in this book did not endear me to the story. Likewise the characters did not endear me to the story.
One thing that I found interesting was the fact that the slaves are always barefoot in the book. They are not permitted to wear shoes. Something as mundane as shoes becomes this wondrous thing that they dream of having, as they represent freedom and being able to travel where you wish.
I have to point out that I hate when books use foreign words, and don’t translate them. Oubaas, Baas, Ounooi, riem, kierie, meid, Nooi-- all words commonly used in the book without ever explaining what they mean. I have a general idea, but I like to know the literal translation-- not the simple “feeling” of the word.
This book is often brutal and vulgar in its depictions of rape and abuse, human degradation, and man’s lascivious bent.
My final word: Reading this story was like talking with someone who has a bad case of ADD. It was rambling and a little all over the place, and I had a hard time following it. Most of the characters were not likable. The master Cornelius was despicable, Francois was a spineless and selfish twit, Philida left me somewhat ambivalent. The story is filled with great brutality, and very explicit in some violent descriptions. This book is definitely not for everyone. I just had a hard time really liking it, and that was a real bummer, because I really wanted to love this one.
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