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A childhood of pampered luxury does not prepare Frances to be left penniless and friendless on the death of her father after his business fails. In desperation, she marries a young man whom she despises. This man brings her to South Africa, where he is trying to build a medical practice. We are now in the milieu of the 19th c. diamond boom, in which unscrupulous white men exploited the Africans without mercy. Just as Frances begins to make some tentative steps towards contentment in her new life, her husband is transferred from a field station where he inoculates people against small pox to the city of Kimberly, a rough town built up around a huge open pit where the workers are beaten, tortured, and routinely crushed in the unsafe mining conditions. To Frances' dismay, her husband is an outspoken critic of the mine-owners' corrupt treatment of workers. His speeches and articles put both of them at risk for their lives.At this point, Frances makes the disastrous decision to reach out to a man with whom she had an affair on the boat from England. Readers recognize this man as a stinker through and through, but Frances' characterization is done with such skill that we understand and almost sympathize with her.This is a good story, a vivid historical novel, and a fun romantic narrative. It is not among the very great historical novels like Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies, but it is thoroughly entertaining and interesting, especially in its evocation of mining in South Africa. The narration is absolutely terrific.
I should just add that some of the love scenes are fairly explicit.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
An interesting time and place and topic, and a good writer, but the main character is so painfully weak and dumb that I could barely finish and wouldn't recommend it.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful