E.J. LAVOIE’S REVIEW
If I were a twelve-year-old girl in South Africa just over a hundred years ago, I would be Corlie Roux. And I am.
I am Corlie Roux as I read Trilby Kent’s novel, set during the Boer War. It takes me only a few minutes to become Corlie Roux, for I am one of them. One of those others. Not quite Boer. Not quite English. And definitely not a black African, a kaffir. Although my best friend is kaffir.
My mother hates me. Hates me with a passion. Because I am not, not completely Afrikaner. So, I cannot love my mother, although I try, but I do love my brothers. My younger brothers. Gert and Hans. Who are completely, utterly Afrikaner. I love my father – I call him my father – who is now dead. And I very quickly learn to love Moat, my little orphaned monkey, who is, like me, one of those others.
And one more thing I love. My country. I love the Transvaal. Very quickly in the story I let you know that. My mother sends me to the store with my little brother, an hour’s walk way. In a country where her people are fighting the khakis. Where lions and snakes abound. Where dirt and heat compete with “fragrant lavender plants buzzing with bees drunk on wild nectar”, and “the smell of hot, sweet grass fill[s] the air”.
So I am immersed in this story, just as Trilby Kent intended. And I am destined to meet the khakis, the English, who are invading my country, and uprooting families like mine, and making us fugitives, and in many cases, prisoners.
When I meet my first khaki, a soldier, an English, but not quite English, one of those other English, a Canadian, I’m not quite sure how I know that. He talks strange, yet I understand him. That is really, really peculiar. I understand him, and I understand that he is not like those English who burned our farm.
Like me, he is an other. And I am destined to meet him again, as I learn of my new place in the world, of my new relationship to my family, and to my fathers, and to my country, and to that other country.
Let me tell you. This story has wrung me dry. But still . . . I am content. I will live . . . and love . . . and grow up. I can’t say that for all my family.
Okay,you’ve reached the end of the last post on the Trilby Kent Virtual Book Tour. Wouldn’t hurt to come back later to check out the comments. And . . . this tour stretches out all week, into Friday. You can visit any of the other sites on the tour using the following schedule:
Last question for Trilby: What is Corlie Roux doing in 1940, the year my other me was born?