“Everyone knows that terrs poison dogs before they attack.”
(Please note: I have referred to Rhodesia repeatedly in this review – this is not a political choice, simply a reflection of the fact that in the time in which this book was set, the country now known as Zimbabwe was called Rhodesia in the English-speaking world)
From the blurb: Amidst the full throttle of civil war, tomboy Jayne ‘Jay’ Cameron is growing up quickly. Caught in a web of deception and betrayal as her beloved friend Enoch, a worker on her farm, is swept along in the struggle for land and freedom, culminating in violent action and and betrayal, she struggles to form her own identity, while the life that she has known rapidly capsizes.
I broke my 100-page rule on this one (normally I insist that I read 100 pages if I am to review the book – and have forced myself to do it before, particularly with Book of Days and No Safe Haven). I couldn’t make it past 46 in this one, for the following reasons:
- Barroso writes in a strong dialect, including a large number of native and Afrikaans words, and none of the dialogue is straightforward, making it almost impenetrable
- this results in a gulf between the average standard narrative writing (too many similes, as I have run across too often this year in review copies!) which is in comprehensible English, and the dialogue
- in an effort to make the child’s view authentic (and as I had guessed, Ms Barroso’s biography indicates that she spent a large part of her childhood years in Rhodesia), the story includes the minutiae of life in Rhodesia and they are dull.
- the characters are fairly lifeless – the father is boorish, the mother unconvincing, and no other character apart from Auntie Nessie seems terribly interesting just yet.
Not for me – and unless you speak Afrikaans, probably not for you either.