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on 27 October 2009
Michael J Davidson's story of a doomed love affair in a small South African city in the 1950's is an engaging read. Brothers and Lovers is his first novel.

The relationship between the teenage Crystal (Afrikaans) and her Jewish boyfriend Raymond is bitterly opposed by her right wing anti-Semitic father. Also his orthodox parents forbid continued liaison . Family conflicts and sibling rivalry abound! He leaves the city to study in Johannesburg and has other relationships. There is pathos as the death of his younger brother from a brain tumour is described with deep emotions coming though.
One of the funniest episodes is on the liner up the east coast of Africa where he is willingly seduced by an older woman, whose fiancé joins the boat at the next port.
The ribald humour moves well, often with a fast flowing dialogue.
There are many complexities and twists to this novel, and it gives an excellent portrayal of life in a white middle class environment in the Apartheid era.
I thoroughly recommend it as a very good read and look forward to sequels from the `Portnoy of Port Elizabeth!'
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on 27 April 2010
This is essentially a historical novel, tracing the fortunes of a Jewish family over a period of more than 50 years. It is an authentic account of the political and cultural problems of South Africa, and in that sense I found it quite educational. The details of everyday life are fascinating.

It portrays ideological clashes within the family and a fair amount of sibling rivalry. In the tradition of Romeo and Juliet and Westside Story, the Jewish protagonist and an Afrikaans girl fall in love, attracting the wrath of their respective families.

Although the novel is an action-packed page-turner, the characters are well-drawn and believable. The intimate physical scenes, of which there is no shortage, are very well written.

In some novels phonetic spelling can be a problem, slowing the reader down, but not so in this case. It is so expertly done that it greatly enhances the reader's enjoyment. You effortlessly hear the South African and Jewish accent.

The novel ends in a surprising, unconventional way.
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on 26 April 2010
A truly outstanding book. I struggled to put the book down. The writer cleverly brings a saga of politics, romance and religion into this delightful novel full of unlimited twists and turns over a period of 50 odd years. You can never guess the next part. In every chapter you read, you will be gripped to the edge of your chair desparate to find out what will happen next and whether there will be a happy ending for everyone.

A short (so the reader does not get the feeling they are reading a history text book!) but clear insight of South African politics merge with the complications of different religions. The writer does not hide the normal 'silent' truths of such reality, instead, he tells us in black and white, exactly what the outcome can be from complicated backgrounds, in this case, an orthadox Jewish man and a young Afrikans lady with a father of severely right wing anti-Semitic views.

If Michael is planning a sequel to this book, (which I hope he is) he's going to have a hard job to match the magnificance of this one.
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on 17 February 2013
The way the book is constructed is more like an autobiography than a novel and it is written in a very amateurish style. The author appears to be a smug, pompous, selfish man, without an ounce of humility or self-criticism, or regrets or an ability to laugh at himself, or empathy with others. He sees himself as a very succesful dentist and a brilliant skier. Oh, and an irresistibly sexy man and lover, with endless descriptions of these encounters (in Africa, on the ship, in London, back in Africa) in a very unimaginative boring style. If it is a novel then he should have developed other characters as well, not just himself.

The point that I found interesting was the description of racist prejudice of Afrikaaners towards the Jews and the mistrust of Jews towards Afrikaaners.

I wouldn't recommend this book as I was irritated most of the time by its style . I finished it because i hoped for some change in his character as he matured, but none happened. He is very lucky to have found a publisher!!!!
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on 8 November 2009
Books about sex and politics have always sold well, and there is no reason why this book should be any different.

The politics concerns Apartheid in South Africa and its effect on various members of a middle class Jewish family. The sex centers on the hero, a virile South African stud, as he grows up in South Africa and moves in later chapters to England. The author has cleverly introduced each chapter by setting out the world events, both political and cultural, that cover the period contained in this riviting story.

The book is well written. However, I have a small quibble with one of the early chapters where the author uses phonetic spelling when quoting the South African vanacular, which I found slowed down my reading. Don't let this put you off. It is worth the effort, as the rest of the book is a pleasure to read.

I understand this is the author's first book and I look forward to his next.
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on 18 November 2009
I have just finished reading Brothers and Lovers and feel the need to share my views on what has been a most wonderful read - I highly recommend it! This is a book that once I started reading, I found very hard to put down! Michael Davidson writes a very honest account of growing up in 1950s South Africa, with Raymond being the central character. The story details his life as a young man, falling in love for the first time, dealing with conflicts and politics and its effects in later life. I really didn't want this gripping story to end and if you plan to read Brothers and Lovers, prepare yourself for a few twists, shocks and catastrophic events - particularly during the final chapters! When I had finished the book, I was left wanting more and my head was buzzing with so many questions. Here's hoping Michael Davidson will write a sequel!
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on 27 March 2010
A really good read. I found it difficult to put the book down! Politics, religion, romance and many suspenseful twists and turns should make this book a best seller. The author cleverly uses historical events to help the reader remember what life was like in the fifties, sixties and seventies.

Raymond, the leading character, is both a scoundrel and a lovable person and so believable in the way he copes with family struggles and anxieties.

If Michael Davidson writes another novel, he will find it hard to improve on this first one.
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on 31 December 2011
This book ranks at being one of the best books I have ever read. I couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end, and I was always excited at when I could next sit down and find out what was to happen next! Supremely well-written, I became totally absorbed in the plot and characters. I won't explain the plot as others have already done so! I soaked up the atmosphere of both the South African way of life with extreme Apartheid and anti-semitism, and also the Jewish angle. It provoked anger in me, and also sympathy, and 'wow's', among many other emotions. It is an exciting, lush saga, of block-buster proportions in my opinion! Fast-moving and never a dull moment in this wonderful novel. The characters jump out of the page at you, my images of them vivid and real. The author created an ending where a second book / sequel could definitely be written, as I was left wondering (not in a bad way) what happened next and what happened to the other characters! I want more!!! AUTHOR--PLEASE CONSIDER WRITING A SEQUEL!!!! In fact...a film could also be made of this amazing book! Reading this book was pure escapism and entertainment, and the related historical event updates every so often were helpful and added to the book's appreciation. You will not be disappointed with this book!
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on 7 November 2009
Loved this book. It has believable characters, pacy dialogue and the perfect mix of low and high emotional moments. 'Brothers and Lovers' personalises the brutal truths of apartheid without ever being preachy. Looking forward to a sequel !
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on 19 May 2012
I have just finished reading this book after being recommended it on a Facebook book club. Having grown up in Port Elizabeth and then moving to Johannesburg and finally living now in North West London, I recognised all the landmarks- It was like a trip down memory lane. The author's characters were highly believable and I can picture them all. I loved this book and could not put it down. I am looking forward to reading more from this author.
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