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The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
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The Woman Next Door

by Yewande Omotoso

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2272081,092 (3.72)42
"Hortensia James and Marion Agostino are neighbors. One is black, the other white. Both are successful women with impressive careers. Both have recently been widowed, and are living with questions, disappointments, and secrets that have brought them shame. And each has something that the woman next door deeply desires. Sworn enemies, the two share a hedge and a deliberate hostility, which they maintain with a zeal that belies their age. But, one day, an unexpected event forces Hortensia and Marion together. As the physical barriers between them collapse, their bickering gradually softens into conversation, which yields a discovery of shared experiences. But are these sparks of connection enough to ignite a friendship, or is too late to expect these women to change? The U.S. debut of an Etisalat Prize Finalist, The Woman Next Door is a winning story of the common ground we sometimes find in unexpected places, told with wit and wry humor"--… (more)

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» See also 42 mentions

English (19)  Dutch (1)  All languages (20)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
I really liked this book. It was nice reading a book featuring mature women who were complex and showed real growth. Although the women were not likable, they ended up winning me over despite of their flaws. One could also view the story as an allegory for post apartheid South Africa. I am glad I picked this one up. ( )
  Cora-R | May 22, 2019 |
Two old ladies live next door to each other in a fancy neighborhood in Cape Town, South Africa. They seem to be extremely different -- starting with the fact that one is black and one is white -- but have, perhaps, quite a few things in common... including a generous helping of bitterness. And they thoroughly hate each other's guts.

This is one of those books I feel like I sort of wanted to like more than I actually did. The main characters are interestingly complicated (even if one of them is more developed and clearly dearer to the author's heart than the other), and the novel dips into some important and difficult themes -- racism, the terrible history of South Africa, the difficulties faced by professional women -- in a fairly nuanced way. But after a while, I fear I grew a little tired of these women's company. That feeling lessened by the end, at which point we know enough about them to feel some real sympathy for them. But the more their relationship developed, the less realistic I felt their dialog was. And in the end, I'm left not entirely sure how I feel about the novel as a whole. There's a fair amount in it that felt interesting, or touching, or insightful, at least a little. But perhaps just not quite as much as I wanted. ( )
  bragan | Nov 26, 2018 |
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 | May 10, 2018 |
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…. ( )
1 vote avaland | May 10, 2018 |
I think I heard about The Woman Next Door from the Johannesburg Review of Books but it was also longlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize in 2017. I liked it. No bells and whistles, but a jolly good story.
Hortensia and Marion are next-door neighbours in a posh suburb of Cape Town, and they hate each other. Marion will never forgive Hortensia for buying the house that was the very first one ever designed by Marion, a successful architect. Having designed it, Marion wanted to buy it as soon as it came back on the market but fate conspired against her and now Hortensia has it. Hortensia, a successful designer, is fed up with being patronised because she is the first black woman on the estate, and she despises the petty community committee that creates mountains out of molehills because the women have nothing else to do with their time. They are both in their eighties, they are both embittered old widows and they are both adept at being mean and nasty to everyone they come in contact with.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2018/05/02/the-woman-next-door-by-yewande-omotoso-bookr... ( )
  anzlitlovers | May 2, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (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
Dedication
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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