Books: THE WOMAN NEXT DOOR by Yewande Omotoso

the-woman-next-doorTitle: The Woman Next Door

Author: Yewande Omotoso

Published: 2016

Genre: Fiction

When I bought this book, I thought that I would be drawn into an exploration of the differing views of the main characters. A study of race relations in the very polarised Cape Town, as the blurb promised.

It was, to some extent, an exploration of race but it did not quite delve into the issues that much. I found the narrative tending towards just a telling of the lives of the two women: black and white, retired, former professionals both with legacies of great success in their respective careers. The author provides sufficient back story for both women from early on. I wonder if this did not lend some bias to my empathizing with them as a reader.We meet Hortensia James: black, a former textile designer, childless, widowed, and haunted by decisions she made when she was younger – namely her decision not to have children. We learn of her husband’s infidelity, and quite sadly of what seems to have been a marriage devoid of trust and love. We learn of her anguish in having to fulfil her husband’s dying wish: that she track down and meet the child he conceived with another woman years before. This part of the book I did not find to be that credible, in the face of what was clearly a loveless marriage. Hortensia’s ambivalence towards carrying out this last wish is understandable, but it is also driven by her reluctance to confront the truth about her marriage, and whatever part she may have played in its failure.

Book Review: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Title: When Breath Becomes Air

Author: Paul Kalanithi

Published: 2015

Genre: Memoir

Paul Kalanithi’s memoir is heartbreaking. I read this in two days and it left me emotionally exhausted. But it was not his writing that was heart-wrenching, it was the epilogue,written by his wife, that had me crying like a baby. She is as equally gifted a writer as was her late husband because she manages to capture in that epilogue all the emotion that the author failed to do in the entire book.