Friday, January 28, 2011

RECOMMENDATION OF THE MONTH 2: FEAST OF THE UNINVITED - P.G. DU PLESSIS

My recommendation of the month is a literary masterpiece called Feast of the Uninvited by South African author P.G. du Plessis. This is one of my all time favourite books, and definitely one of the best I've ever read. Usually I wouldn't touch a war drama with a stick, simply because it upsets me too much. What made this story different is that the backdrop is 1899 -1902, the saddest time in South African history - The Anglo Boer war. The war between the two Boer replublics and the British Empire. Since I am a boeremeisie (boer girl) this part of my history, and therefore this story is very close to my heart.



Fees van die Ongenooides - The Afrikaans version




The Feast of the Uninvited follows three generations of the Boer Van Wyk family, the British soldier Captain Brooks and British war photographer Joey Drew, across several years as they deal with the reality and casualties of war, and the devestating aftershocks in the wake thereof. This book is masterfully written; a heartbreaking, realistic portrayal of small, everyday lives touched by the harsh realities of war.

This book is so full of unexpected twists and turns, and delivers the most unlikely of heroes. It breaks your heart in its unwavering reality, then heals it through the strength of these characters who pick themselves up and face the fire once again. That's what I love about this book, its accuracy not only in the war aspects, but also in its stunning portrayal of ordinary people faced with extraordinary circumstances. Every single page is believable to the extent that I did some research to establish whether these characters truly exist. I could find no proof that they did, but I would not be surprised to one day learn that this book is based on actual accounts of people who lived through this devastating war.

The brilliance of this story was also captured on film. Directed by South African legend Katinka Heyns it was filmed as a miniseries, and can be bought on most online shopping stores. To watch this story unfold is no less dramatic than reading it, and I would recommend that you get your hands on the dvd after you've read the book.




Feast of the Uninvited - the miniseries






What makes the film version more heartbreaking is the fact that they continuously incorporate actual photographs of the Anglo-Boer war. You are literally faced with true visions of heartbroken women, starved children and helpless husbands and fathers. What gives the film version its power is stellar performances by South African greats; The brilliant Anna-Mart van der Merwe as Martie van Wyk and Marius Weyers as Danie van Wyk, Stian Bam as the unlikely hero Petrus Minter, Neil Sandilands as the detestable Daantjie van Wyk and a career defining performance by Lika van van den Bergh as Magrieta van Wyk.



The van Wyk family



The Feast of the Uninvited shoves the realities of a war torn country in your face. Some of your favourite characters die. Others don't get their "happily ever after". This is not a shiny, happy story, but it is a literary masterpiece; definitely the best book I've ever read by a South African author. P.G du Plessis is a master.


Bottom line: You have to read this book.

Monday, January 10, 2011

LAUREN KATE: TORMENT



Just like its predecessor, Fallen, I finished reading Torment in three days. I love the story of Daniel and Luce, and all of the mysteries there are yet to discover. As previously mentioned the Fallen series by Lauren Kate is about Lucinda Price, a mortal girl (although I am starting to have my suspicions about Luce’s mortality) who is doomed to fall in love with, and then lose, fallen angel Daniel Grigori lifetime after reincarnated lifetime. This time around, though, things seem to be different and all of the angels are convinced that this lifetime will change Luce and Daniel’s story forever (and not only because Luce has not been baptized in this lifetime, which of course means that if Luce should die this time around, she will not be reincarnated - if she dies, she dies for good).

Although I love the story and the characters, and definitely prefer the new setting and the new characters we are introduced to (I much prefer them to the lot at Sword & Cross), I had the nagging feeling that I was reading Stephenie Meyer’s New Moon again – and as you know New Moon was my least favourite book of the Twilight Saga. The star crossed lovers are separated. Boy is anguished; girl is tormented and close to depression. Enter new bff boy who makes our heroine feel all warm and fuzzy in the absence of her true love, serving only to confuse her already tumultuous emotions even further. New bff boy tries to make our heroine fall in love with him, even knowing she loves another. Seriously, this guy is Jacob Black all over again; annoying the life out of me!

Having said that, I enjoyed tagging along with Luce as she made new discoveries about her life… or lives, I should say. The story is starting to take a very interesting shape, and with every page the Fallen series gets better. Sadly, we see very little of Daniel, thankfully we see even less of Cam, and we have what I would call little cameo appearances by Roland and Arianne, two of my fallen favourites. A new setting, new angels, new mysteries and new discoveries make Torment an interesting read. For a happy ending kind of gal I wasn’t terribly impressed with the ending, though I can’t say I was disappointed either. Uncertainties and suspense filled scenes are, after all, a great way to end these pesky “to-be-continued’s”, and at the very least I’m happy to see Luce finally getting some backbone and owning her life. At the end of the day Torment leaves you just as it should: wanting more.

In my humble opinion the Fallen series is going to be the next big thing, so if you are one of those people who like to be able to say “I loved the book even before it became a cult phenomenon”, then you should definite get your copies of Fallen and Torment ASAP, ‘cause if you ask me, a movie announcement is just around the corner. Isn’t that the best thing about reading, though? You discover all of these awesome stories before so many others :)

The next book in the series, Passion, is scheduled for release mid 2011.

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