Friday, 28 September 2012

THE STORY OF AN AFRICAN FARM, Olive Shreiner, 1883

I first came across this as a reference in the correspondence between Vera Britain and Roland Leighton, written almost 100 years ago. It held some increased significance for them. They seemed to identify with the characters.
The story was probably quite ground-breaking then, as the strong woman, prepared to leave her home and family to strike her own ground was more unusual. Brittain certainly used Lyndall as a role model and Leighton encouraged her. Probably the tragic outcome appealed to them, too, until the First World War quashed their romance and Leighton was killed.
Em and Lyndall are cousins, very different in their ways. Waldo is the young boy who works on the farm. How they deal with the onset of adulthood and the pressures of life is at the centre of the novel but it is the cast of secondary characters which really brings it to life, especially Bonaparte Blenkins. 

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