Trapped by tragic circumstances in a dusty Namaqualand mining town during the Anglo-Boer War, Emma Richardson must degrade herself in order to survive. Then the town is besieged by Boer fighters, led by their tortured commandant Manie Smit, and Emma is faced with a fateful choice. With her vision of the ephemeral desert flowers in her mind, she sets out alone on foot by night on a desperate mission to create a new future for herself.
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The Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) remains a popular source for fiction. And, as with all historical novels, the challenge is to write about people’s destinies without yielding to the temptation to force all that hard-won research material into the text or to write a military report. Clive Algar undoubtedly understands this art.
Although all his historical figures become people of flesh and blood – especially Jan Smuts – his book is mainly the story of Emma Richardson … who, during the siege of O’okiep, must struggle with moral dilemmas about which she has never even had to think before, let alone handle successfully.
… Emma is not destined to bloom or wither in this sandveld forever. But if I said where her path leads I would be giving away a thrilling story.
By blending the richness of his own fictional characters with one of South Africa’s most historic events, he has created an enticing journey of a woman trying to survive against all odds … it is completely engrossing and superbly written. I am definitely going to look out for more of this author’s work.