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None to Accompany Me

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  744 ratings  ·  67 reviews
In an extraordinary period immediately before the first non-racial election and the beginning of majority rule in South Africa, Vera Stark, the protagonist of Nadine Gordimer's passionate novel, weaves a ruthless interpretation of her own past into her participation in the present as a lawyer representing blacks in the struggle to reclaim the land. The return of exiles is ...more
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Published September 8th 2008 by Brilliance Audio (first published 1994)
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Average rating 3.69  · 
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Jun 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gordimer is an incredible writer. She makes ingrown hairs sound poetic. I found the whole solitude of the self theme to be particularly captivating and upsetting. I think perhaps one of the things I loved so much about this book, aside from the writing itself, was the multidimensionality of the characters, to the extent that I could never make up my mind if I even liked any of them.
Feb 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book devastated me in way that no book has for a quite some time.

Gordimer expertly twines together narratives of lies and secrecy in both relational and political domains-- the double lives forced on the characters by their work in opposition to Apartheid bleeds into the duplicity of their intimate relationships. It's a brilliant exploration of the limits of intimacy, and while its themes are grandiose, its style is direct and engaging-- the best of both worlds, a truly readable but still t
Brilliant. This is a book that lingers in the mind long after you've read the final pages.
Sep 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nadine Gordimer's 1994 novel, None to Accompany Me, is set in the hinge period between the end of apartheid in South Africa and the turn to black-majority democratic rule. Its protagonist is Vera Stark, a white lawyer who works on land disputes for a nonprofit foundation. Despite the scope of the tale, also examining the experience of black Movement friends framing the new constitution and governmental structure, Vera is the odd key to everything.

The two themes of the novel are power versus jus
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hic-sunt-leones
This really prepared me for a tougher read later on this year, the Nelson Mandela's Conversations With MyselfConversations with Myself. It helped me immerse into a world torn apart by the radical changes happening in the early 90s. I am equiped now to better understand South Africa.

Analyzing various aspects of the nove, I will start up with the premise. This revolves on the couple relation and on human sexuality, mainly from the main character perspective, which I assume is largely based on auth
Oct 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Somehow the author managed to create a vibrant and beautiful character-driven novel set in an action-driven time: a revolution, constant unrest and ceaseless violence. She lets nothing take center stage but the characters she so artfully creates. Not a small accomplishment. A Nobel Prize winning author and a white South African woman, the author is new to me. I will be reading more of her.

Favorite quote: "Everyone ends up moving alone towards the self.'
Will Ansbacher
Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: random-long-ago
I started this several years ago and gave up because the subject matter become too minutely political – details of the South African political system just before the ANC took over. But I’m glad I finished it. It’s written with such a taut, elegant style that it is worth reading for that pleasure alone.
Nov 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
nadine too good. the frankness and the complex sentence structure astonishes. my favorite of her book excepting Sport of Nature
Dec 29, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
This seems like a good book, but I just couldn't get into her style, so I gave up.
Kathryn MacDonald
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ostensibly, None to Accompany Me is a political story, a story of the unraveling of white South Africa and the turmoil that spreads from the black townships, a story toward integration (of a sort), and toward the time when Nelson Mandela will become president (although his name is never mentioned). But, at the heart of the story, is a woman called Vera when she is at home and with friends, Mrs. Stark when she’s in the context of the Foundation. In this way, we see her as lover, mother, wife, fri ...more
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'm not much into character studies, so this was a slog for me. I was also disconnected from the main metaphor since sex is such a huge part of Vera's identity. The setting was what drew me to the book, but I didn't feel like it was too consequential to the story. Gordimer definitely has a knack for storytelling (little beats and details prove it), but I just didn't like the book on personal preference.
Jun 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: class-reading
This one was a quite okay book. I never would have picked it up if I hadn't have to read it for class, but I also didn't hate reading it. The only part I hated was these dumbass straights speculating about the one lesbian in the book and making it absolute clear that they were not happy with their daughter "turning gay". Fuck that.
Donna Flemming
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an exceptionally good book, although not an easy read. Her sentences are unbelievably long, with numerous ideas that make you pause and re-read them. There is a lot going on in this book which takes place right after the apartheid in South Africa - it is well worth a second read through and I don't say that very often!
Wow. An intense and beautiful book that unfortunately feels way too current in many ways. Also fascinating during this time of social isolation to be inside "Mrs. Stark's" thinking about being alone while with her family or colleagues. Reading it while also trying to become more active for racial justice makes it even more intense.
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book took me a long time to read. The subject of apartheid was good but the writing was sometimes a little too poetic for me to follow. I almost gave up several times and the way it ended I kind of wish I had.
Interesting book, but the narration style was too distant for my tastes, harder to get lost in it.
Jul 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
South African contemp....Jo’burg and Pretoria 1950s-1990s....white woman’s self in relation to her anti-apartheid and rebuilding profession. Character driven.
Mar 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel takes place at a very interesting transition point in South Africa's history, the end of white domination to a democratic country.
May 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
None to Accompany Me is about Vera Stark, a white woman lawyer, whom has given her life to helping blacks regain some of their ancestral land in post apartheid South Africa. She is not the most likable character you will ever encounter, but she is brave and fiercely honest. She has chosen to give her life to the cause at the expense of her family and friends. She served on the committee that worked on drafting the new constitution which gives insight into the responsibility of creating such a do ...more
Kathleen Hagen
None to Accompany Me, by Nadine Gordimer, Narrated by Susan Ericksen, produced by Brilliance Audio, downloaded from

Vera Stark is the protagonist of this novel. Gordimer’s novels, dealing with the South African Apartheid and the ongoing movements of Blacks supported by some liberal Whites, like Mrs. Stark, are now moving on to the precursor of Africans taking over. This leads to verbal and physical violence both by whites, trying to keep the land which Africans will now want to recla
None to Accompany Me by the late Nobel laureate in literature Nadine Gordimer is a snap-shot of the early 1990s in South Africa, the years of the democratic and peaceful end of the Apartheid system. The great impact those years of transition had on the private lives of South Africans is shown by the example of two couples, a white and a black one, whose personal fates are interweaved with events and atmosphere. Even their marriages and relations to their children and grand-children are affec ...more
Feb 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book, but I also struggled with it.

Oftentimes I found the prose to be overdone and confused; and I found the way in which she sketched out the novel's heroine to be problematizing. Too much of Vera, for my tastes, was built around her career and her sexual identity. I suppose that careerism and sexual liberty are strong markers of resolute, progressive femininity, sure... but for them to be the axis of personal identity? It's a little shallow.

I really, really loved every on
Oct 16, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had never read Gordimer before this. Never even heard of her, in fact, but I'm really glad I picked this one up. Her style is very dynamic, like she's a film director constantly switching lenses. Her language is plain, but the sentence structure is ornate and farsighted. The narrator's voice is precise, matter-of-fact, and superlatively intelligent without a trace of show-offy-ness. She flies through different points of view, not in a gimmicky way at all, but rather in a highly technical way w ...more
Sep 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, nobel
There is no one like Nadine Gordimer to delve into the grey areas of the black and white conflict of apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. My favorite of hers is still The Conservationist and Burger's Daughter, but this one had many merits. Her writing is so smooth, so fluid, so beautiful and charged with emotion and nuance. For example, the book contains three sections...Baggage, Transit and Arrival...each one highlighting where the main character, Vera, is in her life. First, she takes a ...more
Jan 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the better books I didn't like. I struggled my way through it in book group, and was glad I did, even though I didn't particularly enjoy it. It is an amazingly nuanced look at a society in the midst of a radical transition (South Africa in the mid 90s), and I don't think I've ever read a work of fiction that captured the complex racial and political dynamics in such a powerful way. But Gordimer employs an awkward style for her dialogue, which made it hard to tell who was saying wh ...more
Nov 13, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It brings up interesting questions: Are solitude and (to a certain degree) secrets necessary in defining one's identity? Why do we compulsively hop from relationship to relationship with people, knowing our lovers can't give us everything we need? Is it a fact to be lamented, that most of us won't ever find complete satisfaction in another? Or does this restlessness drive us toward a jubilant self sufficiency and intimate knowledge of ourselves?

. . .

Upon finishing the book:
I found that question
Aug 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nadine Gordimer is still a genius. She really might be one of our best living authors. It would be silly to call someone who has won the Booker and the Nobel Prizes underrated, but her work does seem to be less read and discussed in my network, as compared to some other (male) postcolonial authors. Certainly this is true of the Goodreads network.

This novel chronicles South Africa's transition to truly democratic governance, and the reintegration of exiled anti-Apartheid activists into society.
Sep 01, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting look at South AFrica as it transformed from apartheid to majority rule. Yet, too much about Vera's sex life and not enough from the other characters (namely, the Black ones) and their experience during this incredible time. I can see why many like the author's writing style but for me it was a little too slow. I found myself drifting off often and needing to re-read a page or 2. Kind of interesting picture of independent, professional women with husbands who were less recogniz ...more
Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A rich introspective of a singular personality, firmly rooted in the unique political landscape of post-apartheid South Africa. I found it to be a compelling interplay of philosophy, politics, and - overriding all else - personal desire; the question Annie asks of Vera - "What is it you want?". At times the writing clumps in tightly tangled sentences; at other times it unfolds hospitably into metaphor - the "incinerated setting sun" becomes a "blazing forest fire" behind the silhouette of trees. ...more
Sep 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A moving portrayal, from the perspective of privilege, of the events leading up to the dismantling of Apartheid in South Africa. Having read the book within the context of a Queer Theory class, my opinion and reading thereof is framed as such and so Vera Stark, the protagonist, as a white straight woman within the confines of an apartheid-era book is intriguingly contrasted to her environment. She anomalously posits and goes on with her daily doings, in a time which in no time will be completely ...more
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Nadine Gordimer was a South African writer, political activist, and recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature. She was recognized as a woman "who through her magnificent epic writing has – in the words of Alfred Nobel – been of very great benefit to humanity".

Gordimer's writing dealt with moral and racial issues, particularly apartheid in South Africa. Under that regime, works such as Burger

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