Thank you all for joining me for Tundra Books Blog Tour of Trilby Kent’s newest novel, Stones for My Father.
ABOUT THIS BOOK (From the Tundra site)
Corlie Roux’s farm life in South Africa is not easy: the Transvaal is beautiful, but it is also a harsh place where the heat can be so intense that the very raindrops sizzle. When her beloved father dies, she is left with a mother who is as devoted to her sons as she is cruel to her daughter. Despite this, Corlie finds solace in her friend, Sipho, and in Africa itself and in the stories she conjures for her brothers.
But Corlie’s world is about to vanish: the British are invading and driving Boer families like hers from their farms. Some escape into the bush to fight the enemy. The unlucky ones are rounded up and sent to internment camps.
Will Corlie’s resilience and devotion to her country sustain her through the suffering and squalor she finds in the camp at Kroonstad? That may depend on a soldier from faraway Canada and on inner resources Corlie never dreamed she had….
I am a sucker for historical fiction. There is something about experiencing that little slice of history through someone who is ‘there’ and not someone who is reflecting upon it later that allows my imagination to soar. However, I was reluctant to pick up this book because the cover is a plain sepia and brown, and I was unsure of what was waiting for me. My reservations all disappeared once I started reading and was transported to turn of the century South Africa. My eyes raced across the page in an attempt to gobble up the story of Corlie Roux’s lost world.
Reading a story from the perspective of a twelve year old girl, I never felt as if I were being talked down to or that Corlie was a character who knew more than the average twelve year old would. Despite the harsh treatment she receives from her mother, Corlie is never a victim. She uses her love for her brothers and her wonderful imagination to make life better for them all. Appropriately defiant, Corlie’s strong will helps get her through the pain of her mother’s dislike and the subsequent invasion of the British soldiers.
The dynamics of relationships are interesting in this book. While there has been no mention of an overthrowing of the kaffirs (Black Afrikaans) living in this part of South Africa, it is clear that they are considered inferior to the Boers, the White Dutch Afrikaans. The Boers, in turn, are dismissed and treated as badly by the English who are after the rich diamond mines. While the Boers condemn this treatment from the British, they do not think twice at their treatment of their own servants. Corlie’s best friend and ally is a kaffir but Corlie even acknowledges that one day they will no longer be friends, but they will have a relationship that is more servant and master. Corlie encounters the enemy in the form of Corporal Malachi Byrne, Canadian soldier fighting for the British army, and she is unsure if she can trust him. Corporal Byrne, who later takes on the role as caregiver for this Boer girl, finds that he cannot understand why he is fighting this war. After her mother’s final denouncement of her, Corlie is cared for by British soldiers. Corlie is left confused by the kindness she experiences from her enemies, The British and the shunning she receives from her own people. Corlie and the soldier are thrown together as the war ends, and Corlie must redefine who she thought she was in a new role. Tweenaged ansgt with a turn of the century twist!
Stones for My Father peaked my interest in other aspects of history. I have studied American History and some Word history but would have never considered thinking about this experience of Afrikaaners and Dutch. I was encouraged to do further research and create a display for those who may want to experience more about this part of history.
Sadly my ‘tween aged daughter was not interested in the at all in the book. It was only after I read it and talked it up a bit that I saw her flip through and read a few pages. When I introduced this book to a few young readers at my library they too were not impressed with the cover stating that they wanted to read something else but were willing to give it a try after I talked about the camps and the invasion by the British.
There is another book by Ms. Kent that I have ordered and am very eager to read. If she can bring alive a turn of the century Dutch farm girl and make this city girl interested, I am very eager to see what other treats she has in store.
Learning my history,
*Welcome friends in Dutch.
I was sent a copy from the publisher, Tundra Books, for review. I was not paid or compensated in any form. The opinions expressed are my own and were NOT influenced in any way.