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None to Accompany Me by Nadine Gordimer

None to Accompany Me (original 1994; edition 1995)

by Nadine Gordimer

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455642,421 (3.2)27
Nadine Gordimer, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991, is the author of fifteen novels, more than ten volumes of stories, and three nonfiction collections. She lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Title:None to Accompany Me
Authors:Nadine Gordimer
Info:Penguin (Non-Classics) (1995), Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Removed from Library, Rest of World
Tags:read in 2012, swapped, nobel prize, south african authors, fiction, woman authors

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None to Accompany Me by Nadine Gordimer (1994)


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Showing 4 of 4
Middle-aged lawyer contemplates adultery. Set in the early days of post-apartheid South Africa. Feels dated more than engaging; feels more like a political-historical account of the time period than like fiction set in that period. I was disappointed.

If this had been a non-fiction book, I'd have read it with pleasure and interest. As it stands, None to accompany me fails as non-fiction, because it tries too hard to be a novel; and it fails as fiction, because the "characters" serve only as illustrations and/or mouthpieces for political views. The main character in particular is merely a convenient viewpoint to bring political points to the show-and-tell. Gordimer was clearly not going to bother with things like characterisation and plot, and she should really have penned a non-fiction account of the period. ( )
  Petroglyph | Jun 14, 2015 |
Set in barely post-apartheid South Africa, this is primarily the story of Vera Stark, who has spent her career working for a legal foundation as an advocate for housing rights. Her longevity makes her an unofficial executive director, and she commands tremendous respect. While Vera and her work are at the center of this book, it is also a moving portrait of two marriages. Vera is a strong woman, and fiercely independent. Her husband Ben needs her more than she needs him. Vera's past figures heavily in her present, and in her relationship with Ben. Vera and Ben have very liberal views about race, and are long-time friends with a black South African couple, Sibongile (Sally) and Didymus Maqoma. Sally and Didy have only recently returned from exile, and in a surprise turn of events Sally is elected to an important post, and Didy finds himself on the sidelines.

Several threads run concurrently through this book. One of Vera's black colleagues, Oupa, shows the reader a different layer of black society from that of Didy and Sally, and presents one of the more moving parts of the novel. Vera and Ben's adult children have relationships and challenges of their own, and intersect with the parents' lives in interesting ways. Sally and Didy's daughter Mpho is a teenager, causing her parents angst as she comes of age. And then there's Vera and Ben, whose relationship appears unshakable, but is actually threatened by a number of forces.

Nadine Gordimer also has a lot to say about the political structure taking shape in her country at the time of publication (1994), and its effect on everyday people. I suspect there were nuances in the text that went completely over my head. Deeper knowledge would have helped me appreciate the political context underpinning this study of characters and relationships. ( )
2 vote lauralkeet | May 28, 2012 |
Vera Stark is a female lawyer whose personal and sexual relationships reflect the ever-changing political and social climates in post-apartheid South Africa. ( )
1 vote echoesofstars | Aug 6, 2007 |
female lawyer in South Africa undertakes 2nd marriage

6.96 ( )
  aletheia21 | Feb 16, 2007 |
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Nadine Gordimer, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991, is the author of fifteen novels, more than ten volumes of stories, and three nonfiction collections. She lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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