Thursday, December 2, 2021

Guest Book Review: A Conspiracy of Mothers

By Marisa Appleton

Set in 1994 South Africa, A Conspiracy of Mothers is a story of three different mothers all trying to protect their children. At a time of political turmoil, with the government election looming, we meet Rachel, Yolanda, and Elsa. Rachel leaves her home on a mission. Elsa crosses lines and boundaries to protect her son. Yolanda reflects on the illegal relationship that resulted in a baby daughter, Ingrid. We follow Ingrid’s journey of self-discovery as she learns the truth about her family and searches for her father. There is a sense of time running out when almost all the characters in the novel collide with disastrous consequences. When the three mothers’ stories intertwine, the story reaches its violent climax.

This gripping story by Colleen Van Niekerk is her debut novel. It focuses on the tensions in South Africa during and following the years of apartheid which separated people into three categories: Blacks, coloured and whites. In the author’s note at the start of the novel, Van Niekerk provides the political background to the story, specifying how and why she has referred to the segregated racial groups. These groups were kept separate in almost every way, with the white people holding the position of power. We see three generations of the same family who have all been affected by the apartheid in different ways. Yolanda reflects on her relationship with Stefan, which was illegal due to the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act 1949. This relationship left her whole family in turmoil, leaving Rachel to raise Ingrid alone. Following the revelation of family secrets, Ingrid takes off in search of her father with her new friend Litha in tow. Litha demonstrates how the oppressed can also be the oppressor through the racism he is subjected to by the other groups. Elsa is a higher-class white person; she employs a black maid but also quietly disagrees with the ‘new South Africa’. Her main aim is to protect her son, Stefan, although this turns out to be quite misguided. In the story, her character is used to demonstrate the oppressor’s way of thinking. Stefan doesn’t need protecting from what Elsa is afraid of. Van Niekerk has created engaging characters, even creating a sense of sympathy for the characters we are meant to hate. 

This novel is written from many different perspectives which allows us to see different world views. This forces the reader to piece together how the stories will come together and how they are all connected. I personally love this method of storytelling; it allows you to feel involved in the story. In this story, you, as a reader, are forced to solve the mystery alongside the characters. The story comes to a head when all the different stories collide. It is a gripping story, I read it in one sitting – I just couldn’t put it down! This story is definitely worth the read!

Thanks to Shreve Williams PR for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Marisa Appleton lives in Sheffield, England. She is currently studying an English Literature Degree at Sheffield Hallam University while also working in a supermarket part time. When she is not reading for university, she is reading for pleasure. Aside from that she enjoys working out, eating out and travelling with her friends. One day, she aspires to work in the Publishing or Marketing industry in London.

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.

No comments: