As the racial tensions of South Africa during apartheid being to explode, Celia Mphephu realizes she is no longer able to keep her young daughter safe. For years she was a black servant working in the white suburbs and led a somewhat comfortable life, but her employers decide to flee to England and they make Celia a proposal she can not refuse. They want to take young Miriam with them. The choice is heartbreaking, but she knows it will provide her daughter with a life full of opportunity.
Miriam must grow up in a world in which she does not belong. In her new English home she faces racism at every turn. This world is not the fairy tale her mother imagined. Another Woman’s Daughter follows the story of these two women as they struggle to find themselves and hold their ground in a world of turmoil and tension. Eventually Miriam knows she must return to Africa and find her mother to understand who she is and the secret she holds.
It has been a long time since I read a book in one sitting, but I could not put this book down. The story is beautifully written and fast moving. It is a testament to the strength of women, and a tribute to mothers and daughters. My heart ached for both women. Fiona Sussman paints a beautiful landscape and touches you with her writing in the place that connects all humans to each other.
Have you ever found yourself so lost inside a book that when it ended you were stunned to find yourself here instead of there? Isn’t that the most wonderful feeling? I just returned from colonial Africa where I have been spending time with Beryl Markham and her band of glamorous expats. Well actually I was reading Circling the Sun by Paula McClain. I love when a book is so well written that it engulfs all your senses. With this book, I swear to you had to brush the red African dust off my hands each time I finished reading.
Beryl Markham was a beautiful, willful woman who was raised in the wilds of Kenya. She became the first female licensed race horse trainer in Africa (and possibly the world) and also the first woman to fly across the Atlantic from east to west. Her life is filled with amazing adventures and stories of bravery and grit. She lived a remarkable life, one that can tend to make other women feel small.
As I was reading her story, I was so moved by the greatness of her life. I imagined what it must have felt like to be a pioneer for women. I wondered at the pride she must have felt to have blazed the trail for all the women behind her. And then I admit I felt a little sad that I will never be that kind of woman. My path in life is not to have great adventures or fight injustice. Chances are I will never find myself in a situation where I need to be bold and daring and make history.
My life is a quiet service.
It’s easy to see others as more interesting. We can lose ourselves in the monotony of daily life. The endless mountains of laundry and dirty dishes, the schoolwork, the meetings, the weeknight dinners, and Saturday birthday parties. But we all serve a purpose. It’s God’s challenge to us to find it. It may not be to pioneer. We may be warriors in our own ways. Between the amazing adventures, Beryl Markham was also a wife, a mother, and a daughter. At some point, she had to make dinner for someone.
There is glory in the small things as well.
We can not know what path our life will take or the impact it will have on the world. We aren’t supposed to know. In reality, Beryl Markham’s life was riddled with controversy and her spirit never seemed to truly settle. I won’t have a life that inspires epic novels, but I have a family that loves me and I seem to have found my purpose. And that’s enough for me.
As for my taste for great adventure? Thank God for good books.
What have you read lately that got you thinking? Or maybe just got you lost?
I tend to stick to fiction when I’m reading. An autobiography would typically be last on my list of books to read, but I kept hearing great things about Tina Fey’s book Bossypants so I decided to give it a shot. The book follows Fey through her childhood in rural Pennsylvania all the way to her life as a mother and producer of the show “30 Rock”. It’s really just a rambling look at a person with a pretty interesting life.
I really enjoyed the book. I got a few good laughs and even a little insight into life. I was surprised by how much I could relate to her life as a mother trying to balance her family life and work. I really appreciated her honesty about her feelings towards herself, her appearance, and her perception of the world around her. Plus it’s full of helpful little advice nuggets like, “If you are a woman and you bought this book for practical tips on how to make it in a male-dominated workplace, here they are. No pigtails, no tube tops. Cry sparingly.” And if you haven’t read Tina Fey’s “Letter for My Daughter”, Google it. It’s an excerpt from Bossypants and it’s fantastic. Overall it’s a fun, short read. I highly recommend it.
Sixteen-year-old Ree Dolly lives a life of poverty in the Ozark Mountains. She bares responsibility for her two brothers and her sick mother. On a cold winter day Ree learns that her father has skipped bail on charges for cooking crystal meth. If he doesn’t return her family will lose their home and all they have. Ree’s only choice is to navigate the dark underbelly of her extended family and bring her father home- dead or alive.
Winter’s Bone is ultimately a coming of age story, dark and gritty. It paints a portrait of the harsh realities of a subculture that is so far detached from the rest of the world it is hard to believe that it exists, but it truly does. Ree’s character is strong and relentless. The story is moving and beautiful, though very bleak. This is definitely not a light read, but one that shouldn’t be missed. Woodrell does such an excellent job of painting the landscape that you will feel the chill of the Ozark air inside and out. I recommend curling up with this one on a cold winter night with a very warm blanket.