Saturday, October 16, 2010

Agaat by Marlene VanNiekerk

This is about two women—one white and one black—living on a farm in South Africa at a time when the nation is undergoing huge racial and social change.  Milla, the elderly white woman, is paralyzed and dying.  Agaat, the younger black woman, is taking care of her.  They have their own personal history between them. The story shifts back and forth from the present to the past, and from first person to third person, including long, rambling diary passages (with no punctuation, weird abbreviations, references to unknown people and generally hard to follow), all from Milla’s perspective, to tell a tangled story that takes place during the years 1947–96. Trust as you read, that this will all weave together and make sense.  The author weaves it so well that you understand the close bond that the two women share.  There is incredible humor and understanding that these two women share.  Despite Milla being unable to do anything except blink her eyes, she and Agaat communicate and understand each other so well.  This is not an easy book to read (I skimmed a lot) and is too long but, very well written.

Rating: 3 Good