The Bungalow

The Bungalow

by Lynn Freed
     
 

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In 1975, Ruth Frank, married and living in the United States, returns to South Africa to visit her aging parents. There she resumes an old liaison with Hugh Stillington, liberal man of Africa, who lives in a bungalow overlooking the Indian Ocean. Hugh’s world is a South Africa Ruth has never known — lush, wild, comfortably dilapidated, socially and

Overview

In 1975, Ruth Frank, married and living in the United States, returns to South Africa to visit her aging parents. There she resumes an old liaison with Hugh Stillington, liberal man of Africa, who lives in a bungalow overlooking the Indian Ocean. Hugh’s world is a South Africa Ruth has never known — lush, wild, comfortably dilapidated, socially and politically courageous. Intoxicated, she begins to feel at home there, setting herself beyond the pale of her own society, and in the way of danger.

"Ruth Frank, the child-narrator of Freed's critically acclaimed Home Ground , has grown up in this appealing novel. Having married and settled in America, she returns to South Africa after her father suffers a heart attack. There, she resumes her youthful romance with Hugh Stillington, a reform-minded landowner from a prosperous family of sugar barons. Both a member of the South African diaspora with unshakeable ties to her homeland and a Jew, Ruth is an outsider belonging neither in America nor in the country of her birth. Only in Hugh's bungalow does she experience the "keen sense of being in the right place." But when Hugh is murdered, leaving her pregnant, Ruth is forced to confront her sense of displacement. Ruth is a compelling heroine whose experiences shed light on white South Africa and its assumptions about race, class and belonging. And while the political turmoil of that country occasionally surfaces in a passing reference to Sharpeville or when an Indian writer is imprisoned for his views, the real story--like that of the biblical Ruth--is one of personal alienation and belonging. Though Freed's prose tends toward the heavy-handed, her main character's placelessness is powerfully rendered and profoundly felt."
—Library Journal



Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ruth Frank, the child-narrator of Freed's critically acclaimed Home Ground , has grown up in this appealing novel. Having married and settled in America, she returns to South Africa after her father suffers a heart attack. There, she resumes her youthful romance with Hugh Stillington, a reform-minded landowner from a prosperous family of sugar barons. Both a member of the South African diaspora with unshakeable ties to her homeland and a Jew, Ruth is an outsider belonging neither in America nor in the country of her birth. Only in Hugh's bungalow does she experience the ``keen sense of being in the right place.'' But when Hugh is murdered, leaving her pregnant, Ruth is forced to confront her sense of displacement. Ruth is a compelling heroine whose experiences shed light on white South Africa and its assumptions about race, class and belonging. And while the political turmoil of that country occasionally surfaces in a passing reference to Sharpeville or when an Indian writer is imprisoned for his views, the real story--like that of the biblical Ruth--is one of personal alienation and belonging. Though Freed's prose tends toward the heavy-handed, her main character's placelessness is powerfully rendered and profoundly felt. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Ruth Frank, the heroine of Freed's acclaimed Home Ground (LJ 8/86), returns to South Africa, her marriage a failure. She meets and falls for a maverick liberal who refuses to take seriously the racist rantings and social posturings of his peers. He is murdered and she is left, pregnant, to sort out her life. From such serious stuff, Freed has fashioned a continuously absorbing, savagely mocking comedy of manners about a community of wealthy Jews in South Africa in 1975. Bearing deracinated names like Edwina and Bunny, Ruth's friends have forgotten their own vulnerability in their newfound affluence; they make fun of the blacks in the university (``One of our favourite subjects. Academic standards'') and bemoan their intrusion into white dress shops (``Loud colours, you know. Isn't it awful?''). With an unsentimental eye, Freed conveys the claustrophobic quality of life among social climbers in a profoundly racist society on the eve of troubles. A fine novel, with a strong storyline and an engaging heroine.-- David Keymer, California State Univ., Stanislaus

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786756476
Publisher:
Argo-Navis
Publication date:
04/26/2016
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
File size:
306 KB

Meet the Author

LYNN FREED’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, Southwest Review, The Georgia Review, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, Narrative Magazine, among others. She is the recipient of the inaugural Katherine Anne Porter Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a PEN/O. Henry Award, fellowships, grants and support from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Guggenheim Foundation, among others. Born in South Africa, she now lives in northern California.

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