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Juicy Fruit Mambo?
on 23 November 2003
Normally I wouldn't bother writing reviews for stuff - there just isn't enough time in the day - but I've decided to make this an exception because the one review that has been written does it no justice whatsoever.
The Power of One is a great book (although the film, apart from Morgan Freeman, wasn't all that great). Tandia is far better.
Anybody who has read The Power of One will know that the hero of the book is a small, English, white boy nicknamed Peekay, (we never do find out his real name)living in South Africa. In Tandia, not only do we get to see Peekay as an adult, but we get a new heroine - Tandia.
Now of course, as you've probably guessed, there is going to be a bit of a love story in there. But it doesn't take over the whole story - it doesn't even start until towards the end of the book. The racism and injustice of South Africa is the main theme, but you still get a sense of how much the author loves the country, and is capable of seeing the good in it.
The greatest thing about Tandia is the characters; most are likeable, but all are flawed. Even our hero and heroine never descend into that mawkish 'too good to be true' territory. While Peekay is brave, stalwart and true (and good looking, which a hero should be if he can possibly help it) he is still naive and impractical. My own natural cynicism may add a little bias here, but just because you play by the rules, that is no reason to assume that everybody else will.
The names speak for themselves - brothel owner and former good time girl Mama Tequila, her equally corrupt and ruthless sister Madame Flame Flo, the German proffessor 'Doc', and a bodyguard and chauffeur going by the name of Juicy Fruit Mambo.
I should probably add a little parental guidance warning here - there is a hell of a lot of swearing, and one very graphic rape scene towards the beginning, but I can honestly say that I first read this when I was about 13 (though of course it has been re-read to the point where the gilt on the title has completely rubbed away - I now own a rather battered copy of 'ia') and any violence in the book is not gratuitous, but there for a reason. How else are we going to be able to grasp the cruelty, and pure capacity for evil that Geldenhuis possesses, if we are not subjected to this?
For me, the ending of a book is everything. If it ends badly, then it spoils the entire book for me (which is why, perhaps, I never read I Capture the Castle again), but this is one of the best endings I have ever read. It doesn't resolve everything, but the reader isn't left with that feeling that the book has been ended on a cliffhanger purely because the author was too lazy to think of a different one.
As you've probably guessed, I love this book to pieces, but if you are thinking of buying, I would recommend that you read The Power of One first, as not only is it a great book, but the storyline and the way that the characters develop will make a lot more sense.