For me, the most intriguing and beguiling aspect of this novel is not the apparently controversial picture it paints of post-apartheid South Africa but the skill with which Coetzee draws us into a deepening understanding of, and sympathy with, his disgraced anti-hero David Lurie's relationships with women. All but one of these women are , at best, two dimensional ~ ex-wife Rosalind, rabid feminist power-woman Rassool, part-time prostitute Soraya, animal lover Bev, lesbian Helen, and of course, the naive victim Melanie. These women are caricatures not because of any limitations in Coetzee's skill as a writer but because we are only allowed to see them through Lurie's eyes. We are invited to share the strength of Lurie's emotional responses to these women ~ boredom, anger, duty, lust irritation ~ which, like the women themselves, are strongly felt but lack any real depth. Lucy, Lurie's daughter is the only woman with whom Lurie has a complex relationship,the only woman whom Lurie loves unconditionally and the only woman who is fully drawn. It is by no means incidental that he is prevented from defending her violation because he is locked in a toilet.....such a dismissive cruelty by the author. Reduced in the end to accepting a relationship of "visitorship" with his daughter, Lurie attempts to pour all of his inarticulate feelings about love and loss into an opera but only succeeds in retreating into a bathetic fantasy world where the cries of his operatic creation Theresa for her dead lover Byron are accompanied by the plinking of a toy banjo. After the first few pages of this novel I disliked Lurie intensely...ah yes, I thought, I know what sort of character he is, I have him taped. Towards the end of the novel I realised that in being so quick to dismiss, to define, to pigeon-hole and to caricature, I had done exactly what I had been so critical of Lurie for doing. And at the very end I recognised that his flaws are a pre-condition of his humanity.