Book Review - Simply Delicious

by Zola Nene (Struik Lifestyle) ISBN: 9781432304874
 

This cookbook by Zola Nene, the resident chef of SABC3’s Expresso Morning Show is a real treat. The food is easy to prepare, with influences of traditional and contemporary African cuisine. It is soul food. Each recipe comes with a beautiful, appetizing picture. Nene shows how to blend different ethnic ingredients to create her tasty dishes. 

Her food journey starts with nostalgic nibbles, comfort foods, as Nene calls them, like a pap lasagne. In one of the other chapters there is a delectable recipe for a coffee-cream puff cake with several pictures demonstrating how to prepare each step. I learned to bake mouth-watering bacon-wrapped Camembert and how to smoke salmon with black tea. Chocolate fondants and truffles were also a success. And I made Limoncello for the first time. 

It’s a book for cooks with minimum effort, because Nene has no qualms about using ready-made puff pastry and shop-bought mayonnaise in her recipes. 

What you feel most like doing, after reading this book, is going to the kitchen to start cooking! I’m looking forward to a next book, with a bit more of a challenge. 

Pauline Vijverberg
www.writerswrite.co.za
3/5

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Book Review - Burchell’s Travels

by Susan Buchanan (Penguin Books) ISBN: 9781770227552


Burchell, after whom the zebra, the coucal and many more species were named, was a well-known naturalist and explorer, but the 19th century adventurer was also a brilliant artist, writer and cartographer. His masterpiece Travels in the Interior of Southern Africa (1824) is still of historical, anthropological and scientific interest. A legacy of his items with many drawings and watercolours are in the Museum Africa in Johannesburg. 

In this beautiful biography, which is skilfully crafted and well-researched, Buchanan has made Burchell come to life again. His journey through the interior of Southern Africa from June 1811 until April 1815 takes up most of the book. He had a keen interest for languages and people, and he documented their linguistic, cultural and social behaviour in words and paint. 

Buchanan manages to capture the artist’s soul and passions with his numerous exquisite illustrations and journal excerpts. She has done a sterling job and I can recommend this book to everyone. For its beauty. For its narrative. For the pleasure of reading about such an exceptional man, who was ahead of his time in many ways. 

Pauline Vijverberg
www.writerswrite.co.za
4/5

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Book Review - The Peculiars

by Jen Thorpe (Penguin) ISBN: 978485903406 


This debut novel, set in Cape Town, is a light-hearted story of how people deal with their fears. 

Unconventional Ruby is the director of the Centre for Improved Living. The centre coordinates a few studies a year and conducts therapy sessions for the participants to improve their lives. Ruby and her team choose a group of sixteen people who have to learn to overcome their phobias during the course of six weeks. 

Nazma has a fear of driving and Sam has a fear of being robbed, but as with all phobias it’s more complicated than just being afraid of something. That’s where the value of this book comes in. It’s a refreshing take on courage and perseverance. 

The story is narrated through the alternating viewpoints of Ruby, Nazma and Sam, each chapter subtitled with a different phobia, which gives it a charming twist. Will their phobias turn into philias? 

Charming and lovely, this is a feel good story that deals with a serious subject matter. Thorpe has published this book as part of the UCT creative writing class with Imraan Coovadia. 

Pauline Vijverberg
www.writerswrite.co.za
3.5/5

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Book Review -The High Mountains of Portugal

by Yann Martel (Canongate) ISBN: 9781782114697
 

The Man Booker Prize-winning author of Life of Pi has written a new novel. It covers three stories of love and loss, weaved together by recurring themes of religion, magical realism and animal psychology. 

The first story is of the archivist Tomás who, in 1904, has started walking backwards since his loved ones passed away. He finds a 17th-century diary with a description of a mysterious crucifix and sets out to the High Mountains of Portugal, hoping to find it.

The second story takes place thirty-five years later. The pathologist Eusebio, a great fan of Agatha Christie, encounters a woman with her husband in a suitcase.

Both these stories are interesting, surreal, but it was when I started reading the last story about the senator who travels with an ape to Portugal, that I became engrossed. This is Martel at his best. The story revolves around the recently widowed Canadian Tovy. He purchases a chimpanzee and settles in his ancestral village in Portugal where people walk in reverse as an expression of grief. 

I can recommend this magical, marvellous book because of this third story.

Pauline Vijverberg
www.writerswrite.co.za
3.5/5
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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Book Review - Magicians Of The Gods

by Graham Hancock (Coronet) ISBN: 9781444779684

Hancock, famous for his theories about the ancient lost civilizations in Fingerprints of the Gods, has written a sequel. 

He has travelled extensively, from Turkey to Egypt, Indonesia and Peru to find proof that 12,800 years ago, in the Younger Dryas period, the impact of a comet made the ice cap over North America melt. Then, 800 years later, another series of impacts generated so much heat that it destabilised the Earth’s crust again and caused major flooding. He refers to Plato’s mention of the catastrophic devastation of Atlantis, and points out evidence that an ancient culture was destroyed by these Ice Age events. 

His style is easy to read and entertaining. He has done extensive research and his scientific accounts are fascinating and plausible. But when he dwells on his hypothesis of the survivors, emissaries of a high civilisation sent around the world to spread their knowledge, he lost me a bit. He calls them the Magicians of the Gods, and when he explains in his last chapter their warning to us, he makes too many assumptions to make it believable. 

Pauline Vijverberg
www.writerswrite.co.za
3/5

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

Book Review - Island of Dreams

by Dan Boothby (Picador) ISBN: 9781509800759

As a young boy growing up in a hippy commune in the Seventies, the author was gripped by one book that opened his life to adventure and made him long to live on a British island in a lighthouse with a pet otter. The book was Gavin Maxwell’s Raven Seek Thy Brother. 
Ever since that moment Boothby also dreamed of becoming a writer. 

He published guidebooks and completed a first draft of his first real book, but didn’t find a publisher. He returned to the island of Gavin Maxwell; the island of his dreams. He became a volunteer at the Visitor’s Centre of the Lighthouse Island and stayed in Maxwell’s house. And he wrote the book. It’s narrated as a personal history and Boothby weaves in the biography of Maxwell. 

This book moved me. It is skilfully crafted and lyrically written. It’s not only about the desolate wilderness of the island, or the story of the glamorous author Maxwell, it’s also about the journey of Boothby searching for meaning. Island of Dreams is a story of dreams and inspiration, a story about resilience, perseverance and hope. 

Pauline Vijverberg
www.writerswrite.co.za
4/5

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

Book Review - 100 Things They Don’t Want You to Know

by Daniel Smith (Quercus) ISBN: 9781848669123
 

Ever wondered why Lee Harvey Oswald was killed? Or if Jack the Ripper could have been a woman? Conspiracies, mysteries, and unsolved crimes: everybody loves them and the promise of revelation triggers the imagination. This book covers one hundred cases and possible theories about what really occurred with cosmonauts lost in space, stolen master pieces, codes that can’t be cracked.  

The stories are covered in two-page chapters divided over seven sections; crimes and conspiracies, mystery messages, disappearances, unaccountable deaths, strange encounters, forbidden history and frontiers of science.

What happened to Agatha Christie in the four days of her disappearance? Or to the two princes in the Tower of London? Do the powerful delegates of the Bilderberg have secret meetings to plot a new world order? What is the true identity of Shakespeare? How old is the Sphinx? If these questions make you curious, it’s the right book for you. 

Smith is the best-selling author of 100 Places You will Never Visit. This book is enjoyable - full of good subjects for table conversations. 

Pauline Vijverberg
www.writerswrite.co.za
4/5

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

Book Review - Lights Of Liverpool

by Ruth Hamilton (Pan McMillan) ISBN 9780330522250


Ruth Hamilton has written 25 novels and is one of North West England’s most popular writers, but maybe you have to be British and a lover of romance novels to appreciate that.

Of the 440 pages there was only one fragment I liked: Tess is depressed and has patched up her marriage after one conversation with her adulterous husband, which already I find a miracle and totally unbelievable. But what appealed to me was the eccentricity of Tess who is painting the carpet because she does not like the pattern.

The story is about three families and their lives in the sixties in Liverpool. We have Maureen and Tom, who take part in, and are witness of, a gang killing at their wedding. Tess and Don, who suffered from poverty in childhood and a war injury and have marriage troubles and Rosh who is mourning the death of her husband Phil, but is courted by her neighbour Roy.

Until halfway through the book, there is another voice, at the end of each chapter, which turns out to be the freakish psycho-killer. Genres are mixed up, viewpoints are switched and there is a lot of thinking and wondering. Not my kind of book. 

Pauline Vijverberg
www.writerswrite.co.za
2/5

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Flight Behaviour

by Barbara Kingsolver (Faber & Faber) R215 ISBN 9780571290789 


My expectations were high, when I got hold of the latest book by the queen of literature, Barbara Kingsolver. And she has not disappointed me. Her writing style is superb, her plot flows and I could relate to the characters. This is a book that cannot be read in a rush, for each word and each sentence must be savoured. The plot line is almost of secondary importance to the way Kingsolver spins her magic with words. 

Dellarobia is on her way to follow her flirtation when she is distracted by what at first seems a forest of fire: millions of butterflies flaming the valley orange with their colours. Everyone interprets this phenomenon differently. Dellarobia sees it as a cautionary miracle, for the scientist Ovid it is a sign of devastation and the media jumps in on this opportunity. The small town opens to the world and Dellarobia’s life changes. 

The underlying themes are the impact of global warming and social injustice. The butterfly wonder releases emotions in activists, politicians and close family members: everyone acts from their own motives and the dynamics of the family and the village where Dellarobia lives change in her search for truth.  

Pauline Vijverberg
5/5

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The Watch

by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya (Random House) R215 ISBN 9781781090039



This cleverly crafted novel is set in Afghanistan, but based on the play Antigone by Sophocles. The theme is about the conscience of the individual versus the conscience of the state. 

A legless woman arrives at an American military outpost to fetch the body of her deceased brother to bury him and deliver him the last rites. The soldiers stay in an isolated area and suffer from boredom and heat. They have killed men in a nightlong battle, but it is unclear if these men were local tribesmen at the wrong place in the wrong time or if they were dangerous terrorists. The pledge of this woman confuses the soldiers. Is she a spy? Is she a bait to draw out the soldiers? Or is she innocent? 

The story of this dilemma is narrated through eight viewpoints and it forced me to understand the actions and reasoning of each individual. The Watch is very well written. After so many American hero-books, it is good to read about the voiceless Afghan (women), the futility of war, the misunderstandings and lack of trust and poor communication amongst men. 

This is Roy-Bhattacharya’s third novel. His previous novels were translated into eleven languages. 

Pauline Vijverberg
4/5

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. To find out about Writers Write - How to write a book, or The Plain Language Programme - Writing courses for business, email news@writerswrite.co.za

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