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The Woman Next Door: A Novel by Yewande…
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The Woman Next Door: A Novel

by Yewande Omotoso

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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
This is a story of two 80+ year old women, sworn enemies, who live next door to one another in one of Cape Town’s (South Africa) better neighborhoods. Marion is white, a former architect, mother of three grown children, recently widowed and president of the neighborhood association. She is extremely snobby. Hortensia is black, a former textile designer, childless, with a husband near death; she’s just mean.

Omotoso has written an intelligent story that completely pulls you into the story of these two women; it’s hilarious at times and yet compassionate. And as we read, we wonder, can these two women ever become something resembling friends? I could not help but think the author was also saying something more expansive about South Africa but I fail to be able to give voice to it. A wonderful read, and once you start it will be hard to leave it for very long…. ( )
  avaland | Aug 23, 2017 |
A good read set in the leafy suburb of Constantia in Cape Town. Funny at times. I got drawn in to the story and read it in a day. ( )
  akeela | Aug 13, 2017 |
This novel is set in post-Apartheid Capetown. Hortensia (black) and Marion (white) have lived next door to each other for years in a state of restrained enmity. Marion is a former architect, who in fact designed Hortensia's home and envies that it belongs to Hortensia. She has recently been widowed and has discovered herself to be penniless. Hortensia is a world-famous textile designer whose husband is bedridden and dying. Marion and Hortensia exchange polite hostilities in their day-to-day dealings. Then accidental events force Marion to move in with Hortensia and we watch over time as their bickering gives way to friendship---maybe.

I enjoyed this novel of a war of wits between two elderly women.

3 1/2 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Jul 14, 2017 |
4 Stars. A book about two octogenarian women who have been neighbors (but not friends) in South Africa for 20 years. One black, one white, both had successful profession careers yet were personally unhappy; and, have delighted in perturbing each other for all of those years. The book begins in the present and continues for just a few months. Their animosity is immediately apparent and we are privy to their thoughts as each looks back on her life and what made them be the way they are. The women are forced together (one living in the other's house) by circumstances and throughout the long weeks they had more communication than in the 20 previous years. As the novel unfolds, we see a grudging respect developing for each other and we see that they are alike in a lot of ways. The story of their personal lives is sad . . . that they each became disappointed in their choice of husbands and the choices they along the way. But each chose to remain in their marriage and gave up a lot of themselves in the process. I found their stories very sad, even given the time and place that they lived. They did have choices but opted out of them. The developing relationship between the two is probably the most honest that each has had in her life, and a pleasure to spy on. ( )
  bogopea | May 28, 2017 |
This quick read features the long-running feud between two next-door neighbors in Capetown, South Africa, set in the present time while the memory and shame of Apartheid is still fresh. When Hortensia moved into No. 10 Katterijn Avenue in the 1990s, she had a sick husband and a bad attitude. Marion had just missed the opportunity to buy the house which had a personal appeal to her because it was her first project as an architect and she had put her heart and soul into it. Over the years of either trying to ignore or outdo each other with community work, the jealousy and bitterness festered and came to a head when a piece of heavy equipment that Hortensia had hired for a renovation project went out of control and severely damaged Marion's house.

It came to pass that the two women were thrown together in a situation neither one desired. When Hortensia invited Marion to stay with her, they were forced to be civil to one another and slowly even shared a bit of their pasts. This delicate situation was made even more so by racial differences. Hortensia's black pride and Marion's repressed sense of shame over her country's politics served as a wedge that kept coming between these successful yet embittered old women as they tried to come to terms with their past hurts and disappointments.

I first learned of this book when it was chosen for the Women's Prize for Fiction longlist. It sounded like a female version of Last Friends of the Old Filth trilogy and had much of the same wit and charm. I enjoyed the feistiness of these two octogenarians as they examined their lives and consciences. The author does character studies very competently and makes me want to seek out her first book. ( )
3 vote Donna828 | Apr 23, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
In her U.S. debut, South Africa–based Barbadian writer Omotoso does a deft job of shading in the personal and professional back stories to this pair of life-hardened battle-axes, adding a deeper layer of historical resonance in the form of a surprise claim for restitution by descendants of slaves quartered at Katterijn....A pleasing tale of reconciliation laced with acid humor and a cheery avoidance of sentimentality.
 
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Epigraph
The wall is the thing which separates them, but it is also their means of communication. - Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace
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For Emily Doreen Verona Atherley and Percy Leroy Rice , For Ajibabi Daramola Oladumoye and Gabriel Omotoso Falibuyun
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The habit of walking was something that Hortensia took up after Peter fell ill.
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amazon :Hortensia James and Marion Agostino are neighbours. One is black, one white. Both are successful women with impressive careers. Both have recently been widowed. And both are sworn enemies, sharing hedge and hostility and pruning both with a vim and zeal that belies the fact that they are over eighty.



But one day an unforeseen event forces the women together. And gradually the bickering and sniping softens into lively debate, and from there into memories shared. But could these sparks of connection ever transform into friendship? Or is it too late to expect these two to change?
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