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The Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam [Hardcover]

Lauren Liebenberg
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

31 Mar 2008
Rhodesia - a place of great beauty, but also of terrible, man-made, tragedy. The Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam is, above all else, a magical evocation of childhood; at times laugh-out-loud funny, at others heartbreakingly sad. It tells the story of two young sisters, Nyree and Cia O'Callohan, who live on a remote farm in the East of what was Rhodesia in the late 1970s. Beneath the dripping vines of the Vumba rainforest, and under the tutelage of their heretical grandfather, Oupa, theirs is a seductive world laced with African paganism, bastardised Catholicism and the lore of the Brothers Grimm - until their idyll is shattered forever by their orphaned cousin, Ronin. His arrival at the farm sets in motion a chain of events that result in tragedy and the loss of innocence.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Virago Press Ltd (31 Mar 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844084647
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844084647
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13.2 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,152,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'There is much to feast upon here . . . Liebenberg does a lovely job of conveying the fragile, gossamer world of whimsy that constitutes her narrator's life, which makes the threat of darkness threaded through the narrative all the more ominous.' -- Metro London

'Lauren Liebenberg's elegaic first novel captures the insular vulnerability of this white African childhood.'
-- Financial Times

'This is an outstanding first novel.' -- Daily Mail

'[An] excellent and unsettling book . . . The details are astonishingly vivid; Rhodesia springs to fecund, fetid life before your eyes. . . It is immediate, vivid and rarely judgemental, like the children at its heart. It is also charming, upsetting and poignantly strange . . . a book that . . . burrows deep under your skin.' -- Guardian

About the Author

Lauren Liebenberg was born in what was Rhodesia and spent her early childhood in the crucible of the civil war. She now lives in South Africa and has an MBA from the business school of the University of Witwatersrand. She is married to an Englishman and has two young children.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant and haunting 15 Jun 2008
By kehs TOP 1000 REVIEWER
I found this to be a wonderful book, narrated by Nyree, an 8-year-old girl who is growing up in Rhodesia with her sister in the 1970s. We hear about the country's political unrest as seen through Nyree's eyes and her childlike understanding of it. Her story is filled with a child's innocence and faery tales about malevolent spirits, the mixture gelling to create a superbly dark tale. When the sisters' world is disturbed by the arrival of their cousin Ronin, you realise that some very bad events are going to occur because he brings with him a deep sense of gloomy foreboding. At times this book made me laugh out loud, but there are other moments of great sorrow that had me reaching for the tissues to mop my tears. I loved the way that Liebenburg gave her writing a Grimm style flavouring. For me it added to the darkness that surrounded this time in history. Overall, this was a funny, sad, poignant and haunting read and one that will stay with me for some time to come.

I have just one tiny criticism in that I would have preferred to have footnotes, rather than a glossary at the back of the book, for ease of referral when looking up the Afrikaan and Rhodesian slang.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Novel? 8 Dec 2008
Wow! I cannot believe this is a first novel. Right from the start I was lost in this book, in fact, I felt like I was there in Rodesia. Having been told a lot by a friend who was raised in South Africa this was like a confirming re-vist.

Really well written with strong, believable characters. I felt so sorry for the girls who were left to get on with things as the adults just seemed so self preoccupied. I shared their up and downs, fears, joys along with the down right scary moments and times.

I thoroughly recommend this book it gets a 5 star from me
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book from Africa 14 May 2009
I liked this book - it drew me ever onwards to see what happened. I loved the style of writing and luckily I come from that part of the world so the slang didn't bother me. If you haven't I suggest you keep looking at the glossary at the back for explanations. One of the previous reviewers complained about the one-dimensional nature of Ronin. For me, though, it is just the way an 8 year old girl would see him - an 8 year old girl easily categorises people as evil or good. I would have liked to know more, but for me his mystery added to the tale. I just hope this writer is going to keep writing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good 6 Jun 2008
By Rubbah
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book as I was purely reading because the title interested me initially. However, I was quickly drawn into Nyree and Chia's world, where they are influenced by fairytales, their grandfather's biblical views and their father's absence.
However, their blissful life is destroyed when Ronin, an unwanted cousin arrives.
My only complaint is that Ronin's motives are never really clear and all we know about him is that he is bad, we don't know why he is or what he feels about the events of the book.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam and became attatched to the narrator Nyree.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Authentic and Atmospheric 22 Jun 2009
This is an excellent, suspenseful and atmospheric book which was a big surprise to me. Although it is essentially a childhood 'memoir', narrated in the first person, it is very unsettling and moving, with an all-pervading sense of menace, even before the arrival of the girl's evil cousin Ronin. There are one or two quite disturbing incidents, but the book is rich in strong characters, such as Grandpa who was a wonderful character, whose lives are set against the political unrest in Zimbabwe in the 1970's. There is an interesting contrast between the remoteness of the farm on which Nyree lives with her mother and sister, and the relative sophistication of the town. The narrative had a very authentic "child's voice", immediate and nostalgic. It would make an excellent, atmospheric film too. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Final paragraph still in my mind.... 11 Sep 2012
Awesome book. The author creates a magical world and her descriptions of northern rhodesia and these young girls' idyll is captivating. As the story twists and turns you cannot help but be gripped by events as they unfold and the descriptions of the characters and surroundings continue to spellbind you.
The last few chapters had me holding my breath, unable to put the book down but also needing to pause before turning the page. My hairs standing on end.
I don't wish to recap the story here but if you are searching for a novel to thrill, shock, captivate and bring a tear to your eye i would recommend this without a doubt. Mesmerising descriptions, engaging characters and a storyline which imprints in your memory. Awesome.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A charming book 17 May 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is full of childhood memories (but not mine). It has a warmth and charm that are unigue. It talks fo Rhodesia's turblent history through Nyree's (the central characters') eyes. It is poginant and at times painful to read as her voice comes over very strongly. Sometimes by reading books that are designed for younger readers we (as adults) truly get a sense of what is wrong with the world. Once you've read this you won't want to leave it behind.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my most memorable reads 19 Mar 2010
For all of us who had a childhood that we wish our own children could of had, this book reminds us of those days and more. Being South African maybe I hold this book close to my heart because I remember so much of what is written. I would recommend this book to everyone, it may be a hard read for someone that doesn't understand the african language but i promise it's worth the read, laugh and cry ... wow..
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful and beautifully written
Delightful description of colonial Africa through the eyes of a child and with a granfather's wisdom. A good read beautifully written
Published 8 months ago by andrew
3.0 out of 5 stars not my style
this was a reading group book & not one I would normally read. I managed to read it but would not recommend it
Published 10 months ago by C. A. Bringloe
5.0 out of 5 stars Another enjoyable read.
We read this book in our book group and found it interesting. I cannot remember much aboout it now as it is a while since I read it.
Published 18 months ago by Mrs. W. B. Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Our book club
a wonderful book, bought it for a book club read, was voted the best yet, what more con I say.
Published on 18 Sep 2009 by B. Hedges
4.0 out of 5 stars Growing up in Rhodesia
The Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam

This gives an insight into life in Rhodesia in the final years before it became Zimbabwe - a friend who was brought up... Read more
Published on 6 Aug 2009 by SusieH
4.0 out of 5 stars Voluptuous, delightful but also very sad
This book is set just as Rhodesia is jumping out of the frying pan of Ian Smith's Unilateral Declaration of Independence, and into the fire of Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe. Read more
Published on 4 Jun 2009 by Denise4891
3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 Stars
This was a beautiful depiction of life between Ian Smith's declaration of independance and the eviction of white farmers from their land. Read more
Published on 29 May 2009 by DubaiReader
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic and beautiful
I knew nothing about this book when I picked it up and I'm not usually drawn to novels where the central characters are young children. Read more
Published on 21 May 2009 by noc
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