Tundra|March 22, 2011|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-1-77049-252-3
Corlie Roux’s farm life in South Africa is not easy. The Transvaal is beautiful, but it is also a harsh place where the heat can be so intense that the very raindrops sizzle. When her beloved father dies,she is left with a mother who is as devoted to her sons as she is cruel to her daughter. Despite this, Corlie finds solace in her friend,Sipho, and in Africa itself and in the stories she conjures for her brothers.
But Corlie’s world is about to vanish; the British are invading and driving Boer families like hers from their farms. Some escape into the bush to fight the enemy. The unlucky ones are rounded up and sent to internment camps.
Will Corlie’s resilience and devotion to her country sustain her through the suffering and squalor that she finds in the camp at Kroonstad? That may depend on a soldier from faraway Canada and on inner resources Corlie never dreamed she had.
I felt so terribly sorry for Corlie in this story. Her mother treated her like garbage and hated her as deeply as she loved her sons. In her mother’s eyes, Corlie could do nothing right, she didn’t even have to do anything wrong, her mother just seemed to have this perpetual hatred toward her. In part of the story while they were staying in an internment camp, I cried for Corlie for what her mother did to her. However, a secret is revealed that may shed some light on why Corlie’s mother treated her the way she did.
Corlie, her mother, and brothers are forced to flee their farm when the British are coming to invade but don’t make it very far before they are captured and sent to a camp in Kroonstad. The conditions there are horrible. Little food, starvation, lack of water, lice, children dying of disease or wasting away, just deplorable conditions all round.
The decade long “Scramble for Africa, the Anglo-Boer War (October 1899 – May 1902) was fought between the British Empire and the two independent Boer republics: the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State. It was the longest and bloodiest British war fought between 1815 and 1914. Roughly 8,600 Canadians volunteered to fight in the war, making this the first time that large contingents of lives, as well as the lives of between 6,000 and 7,000 Boer fighters, the conflict came to represent the end of the era of “great” imperial wars.”
The Boer War was fought in what is now known as South Africa between the Afrikaners who were of Dutch descent and the British. It really is a very tragic tale that will stir your emotions more than you think. Trilby Kent has done a marvelous job of describing exactly what occurred. You can picture in your mind the woman fleeing with their children, their homes being burnt down, the smell of the internment camp and the death that is rampant there. For anyone interested in history and war this most entertaining story will be right up your alley. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will look for more of Kent’s work.