Stones for My Father

The Boer War was disastrous for the British: 22,000 of them died. Close to 7,000 Boers died. Nobody knows how many Africans lost their lives, but the number is estimated to be around 20,000. This tragic, and little remembered, chapter in history is the backdrop for Trilby Kent’s powerful novel. Corlie Roux’s father has always told her that God gave Africa to the Boers. Her life growing up on a farm in South Africa is not easy: it is beautiful, but it is also a harsh place where the heat can be so intense that the very raindrops sizzle. When her beloved father dies, she is left in the care of a cold, stern mother who clearly favors her two younger brothers. But she finds solace with her African maitie, Sipho, and in Africa itself. Corlie’s world is about to vanish: the British are invading and driving Boers from their farms. The families who do not surrender escape in the bush to help fight off the British. When Corlie’s laager is discovered, she and the others are sent to an internment camp. Corlie is strong and can draw on her knowledge of the land she loves, but is that enough to help her survive the starvation, disease, and loss that befalls her in the camp?

See the review at WOW Review, Volume 5, Issue 2

Shipwrecks, Monsters, and Mysteries of the Great Lakes

In 1679, a French ship called the Griffon left Green Bay on Lake Michigan, bound for Niagara with a cargo of furs. Neither the Griffon or the five-man crew was ever seen again. Though the Griffon’s fate remains a mystery, its disappearance was probably the result of the first shipwreck on a Great Lake. Since then, more than six thousand vessels, large and small, have met tragic ends on the Great Lakes. For many years, saltwater mariners scoffed at the freshwater sailors of the Great Lakes, “puddles” compared to the vast oceans. But those who actually worked on the Great Lakes ships knew differently. Shoals and reefs, uncharted rocks, and sandbars could snare a ship or rip open a hull. Unpredictable winds could capsize a vessel at any moment. A ship caught in a storm had much less room to maneuver than did one at sea. The wreckage of ships and the bones of the people who sail them litter the bottoms of the five lakes: Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan, and Superior. Ed Butts has gathered stories and lake lore in this fascinating, frightening volume. For anyone living on the shores of the Great Lakes, these tales will inspire a new interest and respect for their storied past.

The Lady with the Hat

Yulek, a seventeen-year-old Holocaust survivor, finds himself tragically alone at war’s end. Hoping to begin again, he makes his way to Palestine, where he meets a sad and beautiful Jewish girl named Theresa. Saved from the Nazis by Catholic nuns, Theresa, like Yulek, is uncertain about her place in the postwar world. Together they struggle to rediscover the joy of living. Meanwhile, a mysterious English woman sets out on her own search for the long-lost nephew that she has spotted in a newspaper photo of Jewish refugees. Perhaps by finding him, she will also find some long-hidden part of herself.