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The author Bianca Marais will be joining us in person for this special meeting of the Davisville Travel Book Club! A perceptive and searing debut about Apartheid South Africa, as told through the story of one unique family brought together by tragedy. Life under Apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a nine-year-old white girl living with her parents in 1970s Johannesburg. In the same nation, but worlds apart, Beauty Mbali, a Xhosa woman in a rural village in the Bantu homeland of the Transkei, struggles to raise her children alone after her husband’s death. Their meeting should never have occurred…until The Soweto Uprising, in which a protest by black students ignites racial conflict, alters the fault lines on which their society is built, leaving Robin’s parents dead and Beauty’s daughter missing. In the aftermath, Beauty is hired to care for Robin, and the two forge an inextricable bond through their deep personal losses. But Robin knows that if Beauty reunites with her daughter, Robin could lose her new caretaker forever, so she makes a desperate decision with devastating consequences. Told through Beauty and Robin’s alternating perspectives, the two narratives interweave to create a rich and complex tapestry of the emotions and tensions at the heart of Apartheid South Africa. Hum If You Don’t Know the Words is a beautifully rendered look at loss, racism, and the creation of family.
The phone hasn’t rung for months. Suzy Marshall is discovering that work can be sluggish for an actress over sixty—even for the star of a wildly popular 1980s TV series. So when her agent offers her the plum role of Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest in Zurich, it seems like a godsend. Until, that is, the play is abruptly cancelled under suspicious circumstances and Suzy is forced to take a job on a cruise ship to get home. Meanwhile Amanda Herbert finds herself homeless in rainy Clapham. The purchase of her new apartment has fallen through, and her children are absorbed in their own dramas. Then she spots an advertisement for an Atlantic cruise and realizes that three weeks onboard would tide her over and save her money until her housing situation is resolved. As the two women set sail on a new adventure, neither can possibly predict the questionable characters and strange dealings they will encounter, nor the unexpected rewards they will reap. Vividly evoking the old-world glamour of a cruise ship—and the complex politics of its staff quarters—Sail Away is at once a hilarious romp and a thrilling adventure. Goodreads