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Born in Pietermartizburg, her childhood spent between the bushveld of Swaziland and the colonial boarding school of St. Annes Diocesan College in Kwa-Zulu Natal, the contrasts of Southern Africa have always fascinated the authoress.
Having left the corporate PR, Media Liaison and Marketing world, writing and editing company newsletters in Johannesburg, to spend ten years teaching Business and Legal English to executives in Zurich, Switzerland, the authoress returned to African shores to write of southern Africa.
The realisation of how different her homeland was to Europe, and how little understood the lifestyle of its diverse peoples beyond the political aspects, created in her a compulsion to write a story containing tales of every day life southern Africa
Having observed, first-hand, the extremes of diverse cultures, she offers a series of novels, set in different parts of the country, in different eras and interlaced with history of the peoples of each area in an attempt to give a full and rounded picture of a land and people that lack only a sense of community.
'I came to see that not only was my own childhood unusual in the extreme, but that growing up in southern Africa was a very special privilege. When recounting an odd incident from my past, it was clear that people believed I must have made it up!' she recalls. 'It is so far removed from the consciousness and experiences of those born elsewhere on the planet! I want to honour those differences. Without realising it, we have all absorbed aspects of each others’ cultures; thus, in a world poised on vast change, my fellow South Africans are better equipped to live in it than they realise. I’d like to bring this to their attention whilst showing the outside world a different view to what the media depicts both locally and abroad. '
on March 20, 2012 :
It's a strong book, not Jilly Cooper at all. So if I loved the many emotions of the young girl growing up as well as the challenges of farming cotton and making a living in what I would call the outback. I'll admit I was shocked at the horror of child abuse and it's disempowerment. But I loved the portrayal of the heroine, the balance in her weakness and self-doubt and her courage and forward - looking attitutde. I felt her ability to pull through the abuse and take her empowerment back was very plausibly portrayed. It helped me understand a bit more how such horrid situations can evolve. I loved learning about African language and it's mix and spread in the region, as well as regional history. It is a deep story and a love story and I look forward to discovering how life evolves for all the characters :)
It's a great read.
(reviewed 25 days after purchase)
Sue Muller Hacking
on March 18, 2012 :
Envelop yourself in the heart, the doubts, and the strengthening will of young Shanna Langley as she explores what it means to be loved and to love. From a school girl in uniform to an independent young woman, Shanna’s ability to trust and her willingness to speak up is tested in the web of love, silence, and abuse that is her family.
Under the patient, ever-watchful eyes of her “other family” -- the Swazi employees of her mother’s farm -- Shanna finds a path to understanding her duty to her family, to her French lover, Marco, and, most importantly, to herself.
Born and raised in the southern African Kingdom of Swaziland, author Storm James reveals her love of country and the Swazi people, and brings enticing tidbits of their history to light through memorable characters such as young Bongane and his grandfather Dlamini. Perhaps her teaching background has compelled James to add a bit more Swazi history to the book than is absolutely necessary for the story line, but discerning readers can choose either to skim those paragraphs or embrace them and learn a bit more about the rich history of this small African Kingdom which is sorely under-represented in modern literature.
For readers not of southern African heritage, it should be noted that the age of consent in both South Africa and Swaziland in the 1970's was sixteen (as it still is today) and sex scenes in The Giraffe Stepped over the Fence are between consenting adults. James handles these scenes with artistry and accuracy – a sensual delight and refreshing change from the “norm” in contemporary romance and thrillers.
First in the Romantic Africa Series, The Giraffe Stepped over the Fence sets a high bar for the books to come. Storm James has shown herself adept at creating a thought-provoking and compelling character-driven story.
(reviewed 12 days after purchase)