Kathy's Reviews > July's People

July's People by Nadine Gordimer
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Aug 10, 12

bookshelves: nobel, 2012
Read from August 06 to 09, 2012

Seriously, I don’t know any other writer who captures the emotion of apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa better than Gordimer. But this book was not an easy read, and even though it was at times a 4-star novel, in the end I can only muster up enough GR stars for a 3. I couldn’t always figure out who was talking or grasp the intricacies of what was happening between the characters. So complex. So ambiguous. And I’m not even sure what happened at the end (spoilers coming)…did Maureen run away to save herself, thus abandoning her family to certain death? Where was she running to? Was there in actuality no threat, but she decides to give up and run away from her family and her life anyway? Who arrived in the helicopter? What happens? Aack! I’m not sure we are meant to understand completely, which is part of the novel’s appeal, but that doesn’t always make it an enjoyable experience. It’s a short enough book (the smallest I had on hand when searching for a lightweight, backpacking read) that I may need to read it again. It still has my brain reeling dizzily…

Post-review evaluation: So, after reading a bit more about the novel, reading other people’s reviews, and re-reading the last few pages of the novel, I realize that I had a very different interpretation of the ending. Now, granted, I was finishing the book as I was falling asleep one night, but somewhere I got the sense that Maureen was abandoning her family and was running AWAY from the helicopter, not towards it and the potential for either salvation or destruction. Somehow I picked up a real lack of maternal feeling on Maureen’s part in the first sections of the novel. Weird.
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