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Review – Shades by Marguerite Poland

on November 2, 2012

I received a review copy of Shades from Penguin Sa and when I was asked if I would like to read it, I was a little apprehensive as I am not really a fan of political fiction but, I also wanted to get out of my comfort zone regarding the books I had been reading. So, I put my apprehension to one side and said yes, please.

And Thankfully I did, this novel is extraordinary!

Set in the early 1900’s ‘against a backdrop of drought, the rinderpest pandemic, the South African War, the burgeoning gold-mining industry and the complex birth of the exploitative system of recruiting migrant labour’ it is the story of one family growing up in a mission in a small town in the Eastern Cape.

‘Shades’ is the perfect name for this beautiful and richly interwoven story. At heart a love story, Marguerite has a stunning way with words as she draws you in to each characters life, and all through the novel you are kept thinking of how very different life was back then. Especially regarding relationships. If you look at relationships in this day and age, there does not seem to be the same relevance placed on marriage and the communion of two people. Also, that if one had ‘relations’ outside of marriage, the amount of guilt which is heavy on the heart is a tad less now than then.

‘Shades’ is more than a love story, it crosses the border of color. It challenges ones thinking and beliefs and especially as we are now ‘The Rainbow Nation’ it allows us to see that there are Always people who are wise beyond words, and then there are those who are, sadly, not. People are People no matter what colour they are and in this novel, we are shown that, yet again.   – It reminds me of the Dr Seuss saying :

‘Shades’ combines two different faiths, Christianity and the Amaxhosa, and shows that they can Both be utilized together. That there does not need to be a line between faiths. God is God after all, no matter what colour, shape, size you are or belief you hold. But yet, it contrasts the vivid differences between the cultures and how, ultimately, they can work side by side.

‘Shades’ is about family. And how each person does need to eventually stand on their own two feet, and make their own decisions and not just allow the dictation of a parental figure to make choices for them. It shows strength and love and heartache and poor choices and standing up for ones truth.

This was a truly exceptional novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though it took me a lot longer to read than usual. I think it was because it was such a rich book, and also that it required solid reading -no skipping pages-and of course the ever present lack of time. But so much so did I enjoy it that I went to the library yesterday to find another of her novels, which I did (Recessional for Grace) which I have been told, by an avid Poland fan, it is one of her best though we shall have to see about that, as this is by far one of the best books I have read in a while!

One last thing, at the end of the book, I was in tears! Lump in my throat, tears streaming down my cheeks, type of tears. beautiful, unexpected, inspiring, sad but  just such a joy to read. I was left with an ache in my reading soul when I had finished it. You know the feeling when you have finished a really good book and you don’t know what to read from there? Yip, thats what I had for a good couple of days after I had finished, I was loath to let the characters go.

Read it, do, you will not be disappointed!


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Rating: 7.7/10 (3 votes cast)
Review - Shades by Marguerite Poland, 7.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

4 Responses to “Review – Shades by Marguerite Poland”

  1. Shayne says:

    I have heardd from various people that this is an outstanding book – will you bring it up with you? or post it to me?

    Love you xx

  2. Read Shades as my matric setwork book. It is undoubtedly one of the books that had the biggest impact on my life.

  3. […] new to me SA author, read my review here. This book came a very close second to my first […]

  4. […] was the first book I had read by Marguerite Poland and I loved it. You can read my review over here and if you would like to win this copy, all you need to do, is leave me a comment with your  No1 […]

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