Shades

Marguerite Poland

Penguin, October 2012

448 pages

Description

On the night that Walter Brownley had arrived to take up his position at a remote mission, set among the hills of the Eastern Cape, he had written in his journal, ‘January 27th 1898: At St Matthias there is an odd sense of predestination. It is strange how strongly I feel it … what it is I do not know but I shall leave before it takes me in …’ And yet – despite himself – he had not left: he’d waited for the catastrophic game to end, as he knew it must …

Marguerite Poland’s spellbinging novel of love and dispossession is a rich and haunting work in which individual destinies are played out against the backdrop of the country’s wider conflicts at the turn of the century, particularly the turbulence and discord wrought by the inevitable clash of different cultures.


Marguerite Poland has successfully and eloquently mastered writing for both children and adults. Her landmark 1979 book  The Mantis And The Moon  is credited with establishing a market for indigenous children’s books in English in South Africa. Poetic, sensitively-layered and lucid, Poland’s novels for adults have won several prestigious awards. A meticulous researcher, she has also written a number of academic papers and reports.

Fluent in Xhosa and isiZulu, much of Poland’s work reflects her interest in African culture with some of her children’s stories in particular inspired by African oral traditions. Her keen understanding and appreciation of the South African landscape, its fauna and flora, as well as its peoples, is colourfully evident in her writing.Married with two daughters, Marguerite Poland spends her time between Grahamstown and Durban.


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