Difficult; well written but rarely enjoyable,
This review is from: Held Up (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book is about a South African couple who have had their 9 month old daughter kidnapped: there's not a lot to laugh about. It's maybe overstating things to call it 'traumatic' or 'emotionally draining' but there's certainly plenty of hand-wringing and soul-searching. It follows the parents' attempts to firstly find their daughter, and then, as it seems that she won't be found, their differing ways of coping with that loss. As such, it's like being a voyeur to a marital breakdown; thoroughly awkward and uncomfortable. The husband makes several attempts to take matters in to his own hands and this creates some 'action sequences' which come across as a little far-fetched when set against all the talky stuff.
Held Up does have its good points; it is well written, if a little earnest, and South Africa itself has such a strong presence that it's almost a central character. There's a powerful sense of Time and Place, and the background of being a white couple in the 'New South Africa' is often more interesting than the actual story.
The final third goes off on a kind of unexpected tangent. It's quite an interesting direction to go in but, for me at least, it didn't really gel with the rest of the book. Sorry if I sound a bit ambivalent, but it's a difficult book to recommend.