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Love Child: A Novel

3.21  ·  Rating Details  ·  247 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
An enthralling new novel from the highly acclaimed author of Becoming Jane Eyre

The compelling story of a forbidden marriage, a baby lost, and a love triangle gone horribly wrong, Love Child centers on Bill, a South African woman whose life has been defined by the apartheid-era, class-riven society in which she lives. Under pressure to make her will, Bill is forced to th
Kindle Edition, 242 pages
Published (first published June 1st 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 509)
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Tara Chevrestt
I was in some debate as to whether or not to give this a three or a four. I had two quibbles with the novel, however, and thus, took away two stars.

The first quibble: The novel is told in two parts, "modern" day, 1956, in which Bill (an old chick) is widowed and her lawyer is bugging her to write a will cause she is quite wealthy. This brings up her past, the people in it, her greedy family waiting for handouts, her sons who really don't know her at all, are already wealthy, and have no interes
Jul 24, 2011 Renee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bill is a woman who has always had her life controlled by men; first her father and then her second husband. Now even as a widow, Mr Parks the estate executor is trying to convince her that she must leave her inheritance to her sons but Bill has other plans for the fortune. Through flashbacks we learn of Bill's past from her late teen years to her marriage to Mark. We of course learn of her 'love child' to whom she would like to leave some of her fortune but will she be able to locate her?
In gen
Oct 14, 2011 Iva rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though Kohler is an elegant writer (she teaches creative writing at Columbia and is beloved by Joyce Carol Oates, Edmund White and me) she disappoints in a few major ways in this short novel. Characters were not believable, the setting of South Africa was not fleshed out, and the back and forth from the 1930's to the 1950's was jarring. Another minor annoyance: she names her female main character Bill. In an interview she says the names for the novel were actual names of her own family members.
A fairly quick and somewhat absorbing read, Love Child is the story of a woman nick-named Bill and her rather tragic life in South Africa in the 1920s-late 50s. Bill's husband has recently died, and her accountant is nagging her to create a will, which causes her to reflect on the secrets of her past.

A lot of people commenting on this book seemed to hate the fact that Bill's current life and her past are revealed in parallel. Not exactly flashbacks, but switching back and forth between the prese
MaryannC.Book Fiend
Aug 02, 2011 MaryannC.Book Fiend rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book very much. The small novel is about Bill, a prosperous woman who reflects upon her life in the 1920's and 30's when she was a young woman. Bill had a life that was filled with love,loss,betrayal and heartache. The story was well written and I couldnt put it down. I wanted to find out more about Bill.
Jul 14, 2011 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I truly enjoy anything by Sheila Kohler (if you have not read CRACKS, please do!). This book did not disappoint. The novel is told in alternating chapters that go back and forth in time and tell a compelling story.
Apr 27, 2012 Valerie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mmmmm, the conclusion leaves something to be desired. However, by and large, this novel is a page turner!! Interesting and complicated characters that make this a worthy choice for a book club read.
Christy B

A nice little book about young love, secrets and mistakes.

The story is about a woman named Bill. Taking place in South Africa, the story goes back and forth between the 'present day' - which is the mid 1950s - and the 1920s and 30s. Present day Bill is a widow with her two sons away at boarding school. She is faced with her own immortality, when she has to consider who to leave her money and possessions to in the case of her own death.

We also see her past. In the mid-1920s as a 17 year old,
Jess (Gone with the Words)
Read this review on my blog! --> Love Child by Sheila Kohler

Love Child was quite a sad story. So that this is not confusing to you, lets start by pointing out that the main character, a woman, goes by Bill. That took a bit getting used to at first. Anyway, back to the story. It’s told in alternating timeline chapters. It switches between past and present, unfolding Bill’s story in a captivating way. I didn’t much like Bill. I wish she would’ve made so many different decisions throughout her l
Oct 19, 2015 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick read about a woman seemingly spoiled and petted her whole life, though the reader finds out soon enough there is another reality and quite a sad one. I liked this but it was a bit more telling than showing and I thought the ending underwhelming.

In the afterword, Kohler said she based the main character on her mother and I want to know more about that!
I liked the book a lot at first; it's really absorbing. However, toward the middle it started to get a little strange and unbelievable with the whole threesome-love triangle thing. I also thought it ended quite bluntly and left more to be desired.
Lisa Kelsey
I like the way the narrative was revealed, which gave just the right amount of detail and foreshadowing to keep me interested in the outcome, however, I don't think the characters, setting, or time period were fleshed out enough. Some writers have a spare style, and it is possible to say very much while writing little, but that's not quite happening here.

Another reviewer here said it didn't rise above being a "stock story" of a woman whose life is constricted by her family and the rigid social
Mar 27, 2015 Patricia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not a top favorite. The ending wasn't expected at all.. I thought it would have been better. it was an easy book to read, but not very interesting to me.
May 18, 2015 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book on my shelf. it was a quick read. enjoyable. i was interested by the imagery of privileged south africa in the early 1900's.
Sep 11, 2013 Sherry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sheila Kohler writes beautifully! I enjoyed the smooth transitions back and forth from the 20s to the 50s as the plot rolled along. It was like connecting the dots to the denouement about the love child. I learned more about South Africa and the lives of the privileged and working class, as well as seasonal changes, plants and flowers that are different from those in North America.
I lugged this book along on a backpack trip and did not regret it. In fact I read it while sitting on boulders by d
Jul 07, 2011 Terra rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I chose this book on a whim because it had an intriguing cover and the author was had received lots of awards. I learned next to nothing about South Africa (where the author grew up). It was a sad story and I never understood why the woman nicknamed Bill was making any of the choices she was. She fought when she should have reasoned and was passive when she should have fought back and ran away when she should have stayed. I felt sorry for her but couldn't help seeing that she chose money and com ...more
Aug 17, 2011 PopcornReads rated it really liked it
Bill is the daughter of a diamond evaluator and a semi-invalid mother in South Africa in the 1920’s. Her role in the family is being her mother’s helpmate, and it has been that way since she was 10 years old. Bill is known as the prettiest of the three daughters and her father’s favorite. She enjoys the effect she has on men of all ages. When she visits her father at work one day, she catches the eye of one of the other diamond evaluators, Isaac, and sets her cap on him. Read the rest of my revi ...more
Jan 30, 2012 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just started this book yesterday ... totally absorbed into it... really liking it so far (about 100 pages in) ... so I stayed engrossed in this book until about 3/4 of the way through, and then it just kind of fell apart for me. It is the story of a white woman living in South Africa in the 20's, 30's and 50's. She is asked about creating a will and who she will leave her money to, and then we get glimpses of her life and the people in her life.

I wish it had a stronger finish, but enjoyed the
Aug 16, 2011 Jamie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really intriguing book. I love South African fiction...this is packed for such a short book. I think I would have preferred if she had used a different style, one more descriptive and more fully developed characters. But I know why she wrote it this way and definitely think it works for the story and what she is trying to communicate to the reader. Not my favorite style of novel though. I am excited to meet her and talk to her about the book!
Mar 17, 2012 Gail rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kcls, fiction
I would have liked for the book to focus more on the titular love child than on what was contained in the book. It would have been interesting to see Hannah interacting with her long-lost mother and her two half-brothers. The two servants' stories of Bill might have been more interesting than Bill's, sorry to say.
Dec 31, 2013 Denita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a heart rending tale of a young women and her decisions throughout her life. Its a slow star but if you stick with it I promise you wont regret it.
Jan 11, 2012 Jane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sad narrative of lonely disconnected woman reviewing her past to help with her decision who to leave her estate to in her will. Begins in the mid-50's and goes back to the mid-20's to show her origins and the loves and abuse and relationships they shaped her life.
Beth Gabor
Didn't love it, but it wasn't bad. It was very Fitzgerald-esque. Going back an forth in time keep me going as there was cliff-hanger after cliff-hanger. In the way it was written, just as many secrets were kept as the secrets the characters kept.
For me, this book lacked sparkle. The author wanted the narrative to be haunting and remote, but because the characters' actions remained unfathomable, I was as detached from the story as they were from empathy. A very mediocre, but fast, read.
Jun 17, 2012 Natalie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I wish the structure of the book had been a bit different, jumping around time periods in such short chapters was discombobulating at times. That being said, it was otherwise well-written and engrossing (I finished it in one night).
May 25, 2012 Lana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love Child is a wonderful novel. I thoroughly enjoyed every secret that the author revealed in the best way, leading us to sympathy and understanding. I highly recommend this novel to general raeders seeking a great read.
Mar 31, 2012 Florinda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Reviewed for Shelf Awareness, 7/1/11:

Reposted with permission on The 3 R's Blog
Sep 10, 2011 Donita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would like to read more books by this author. She does a great job developing characters and I was very interested in this story. Not sure I really liked the ending so much, would have like more.
Aug 02, 2011 Kathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sheila Kohler spins a story so intriguing that you'll find this book hard to put down.
I'll be reviewing it next week at my book blog:

Happy Reading!
Caitlin Griffin
Jun 04, 2012 Caitlin Griffin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
lovely novel. oh, poor bill. she could have done so many things differently, and yet i didn't get angry with her for poor decisions. she was too weak to believe she was able to control her life.
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Bookmarks : Sheila Kohler 1 1 Aug 25, 2011 03:26PM  
  • Stolen Lives (Jade de Jong, #2)
  • Yesterday's Promise (East of the Sun, #2)
  • A Rainbow in the Night: The Tumultuous Birth of South Africa
  • Coffee at Little Angels
  • The Lion Sleeps Tonight
  • The Racist's Guide to the People of South Africa
  • Energy
  • The Way of the Dog
  • The Jack Bank: A Memoir of a South African Childhood
  • I'm Trying to Reach You
  • Criminal Macabre Omnibus Volume 1
  • The Horns of the Buffalo (Simon Fonthill, #1)
  • David's Story
  • Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred
  • The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist
  • The Unlikely Secret Agent
  • Shirley, Goodness & Mercy: A Childhood in Africa
  • Green Girls
Sheila Kohler was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, the younger of two girls. Upon matriculation at 17 from Saint Andrews, with a distinction in history (1958), she left the country for Europe. She lived for 15 years in Paris, where she married, did her undergraduate degree in literature at the Sorbonne, and a graduate degree in psychology at the Institut Catholique. After raising her three girl ...more
More about Sheila Kohler...

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