Patagonia by Maya Fowler (first published in 2018 by Penguin Random House South Africa)
After the pain and betrayal of the Anglo-Boer war, Basjan heads for South America, anonymity and the chance to make a fresh start.
The secret he carries with him is dark and so full of guilt that even the most inhospitable landscape can’t help him bury it in the past.
A century later a different kind of guilt haunts Tertius – an academic who has slipped up by having a one-night stand with a student, leading to a series of events that mean his life can never be the same again.
He too heads for Patagonia, searching for a new identity and existence that will save him from his own failings.
Both leave behind them strong, challenging women who refuse to accept the supporting roles that society seems determined to trap them in: Alta, an artist driven by righteous anger and Salome, who won’t allow Basjan to leave behind a string of broken promises.
Each embarks on her own challenging journey to seek justice.
Maya Fowler allows her characters to drive this intriguing novel, while using her chosen geographical and historical background to startling effect.
We can never forget that these protagonists are foreigners in a strange land, seeking somehow to plant the familiar in its soil. It is an intriguing chapter in South African history, which Fowler brings captivatingly alive through her two generations and their journeys.
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