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Nicholas Monsarrat is of course best known for his tales of the sea: most of his first written works were about World War II, particularly his autobiographical accounts of the convoy escort duties aboard the anti-submarine warships he served on and latterly commanded during the Battle of the Atlantic such as "Three Corvettes." He will always be remembered for his iconic depiction of that campaign, the classic novel "The Cruel Sea" which is undoubtedly one of the great war stories of all time.

However, Monsarrat's skill with the pen was far broader than just the ability to write about war and the sea, he also wrote some very different books, such as The White Rajah" and this is another book which is very different from his nautical offerings.

"The Pillow fight" is the story of a marriage which begins against the background of injustice in South Africa under the apartheid regime.

At the start of the story Kate Marais is a a successful and cynical career girl from Johannesburg, and Jonathan Steele is a passionate idealistic young writer preparing a book about Africa. Despite the huge gulf between their ideas, backgrounds and values, they fall in love and eventually marry.

The twist to the story is that in the second half of the book their values switch in opposite directions: Kate has become more idealistic and ethical while Jonathon has tasted "the corrupting fruits of success" and become far more cynical. As Jonathon becomes a globe-trotter enjoying fame and wealth while seking more, Kate comes to care about the people of Africa in the way the man she had married once did, and putting ever more strain on their relationship ...

This is a well written and entertaining story and those who like romance and relationship stories with a harder edge will probably enjoy it. Just don't expect it to be anything like "The Master Mariner" or "The Cruel Sea!"
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on 23 September 2011
Having just finished two other Monsarrat novels, full of humour and descriptive narrative I was left wondering why this book was written, it has a weak story line and goes nowhere. So unusual.
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