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The way of the women by Marlene Van Niekerk
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The way of the women (2010)

by Marlene Van Niekerk

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3541846,893 (4.06)52
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» See also 52 mentions

English (13)  Dutch (5)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
I just finished reading this masterpiece and my head is reeling. It is a book that requires a lot of patience, as at times it seems that little is happening, yet I found that I hung on every word, highlighting lines and paragraphs to be reread later. It is a complex and very internal story told through diary entries, disjointed prose, and the thoughts of a completely paralyzed dying woman. It explores the ever-changing relationship between two very strong women - one a white land owner and the other a black maid/daughter/nanny/caregiver/competitor. The interactions between them and their relationship with the white woman's son is painful, at times exquisite, and often conflicted.

I was mesmerized by the prose, deeply touched by the humanity, challenged by the multiple story lines and intensely intimate relationships, and found that though the book was very long, I was never bored. This will surely be one of my top books of 2017. ( )
  njinthesun | Apr 10, 2017 |
This is one of those books that I wanted so much to like. I had many moments where I recognized how good of a book it was, but I just never really enjoyed reading it and I think the fault is mine.

Agaat takes place in South Africa and tells the story of a white woman, Milla, who has advanced ALS and is mostly paralyzed, and her black maid, Agaat. The complicated relationship between the two women is slowly revealed throughout the novel.

The narrative style can be quite difficult to digest, and while I appreciate it, I don't think I had the patience for it while I was reading. The story is not told in chronological order and much of it is told without complete sentences. There are a lot of other liberties taken in the writing that made it difficult for me to read, and I was just never all that excited to pick it up. But again, I suspect the fault is mine because I think it is actually a really good book. ( )
  klburnside | Aug 11, 2015 |
Not an easy read for a broad variety of reasons but well worth the journey. ( )
  AntT | Jan 24, 2015 |
Not an easy read for a broad variety of reasons but well worth the journey. ( )
  AntT | Jan 24, 2015 |
oh boy.

i really don't know how to review this one. i suspect it is one that is going to sit with me for a long while and that my rating will likely increase over time, as i get further beyond the read. i liked it but, right now, i can't say i loved it. i felt too much was left dangling and that for the work of the read, i am left a bit unfulfilled.

the story is heartbreaking and unsettling. the style is interesting and effective. to a point. i think where i am feeling a bit lost with it all has to do with the fact that the perspective is very narrow. the title of the book is 'agaat' and we get her story, but it comes through the filter of another character, milla. towards they end of the book, we get a bit more from agaat's side of things. for me, that just wasn't quite enough.

(i also suspect that if journals had not been used as a narrative device, i might be feeling differently abut the perspectives. we get single perspectives in fiction all of the time, but in this read, it really stood out for me as too narrow given the subject, agaat, was evolved mostly through diary entries not of her own hand.)

the narration is unreliable - and i don' t mind that in fiction. in fact, i tend to like it a lot. but this book almost verges on meta-unreliable narrator - is that a thing?? i might have just made that up. heh.

agaat is a complicated and dense novel but i do feel as though it is an important book that more people should read. and when you do...you can come and tell me what i am missing. what is it that should be giving it a 4- or 5-star rating over my 'it was fine' 3-stars. okay? thanks! :)

( )
  Booktrovert | Sep 20, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Marlene Van Niekerkprimary authorall editionscalculated
Heyns, MichielTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prandino, LauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Focuses on the relationship between Milla, an aging white female farmer in South Africa, and Agaat, her black maidservant, in a story set near the end of apartheid.

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