Set in Rhodesia, the Grass is Singing tells the story of Dick Turner, a failed white farmer and his wife Mary, a town girl who hates the bush. Trapped by poverty, sapped by the heat of their tiny brick and iron house, Mary, lonely and frightened, turns to Moses, the black cook, for kindness and understanding.
..... Outer back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1): The newspaper did not say much. *
MEMORABLE MOMENT (page 12): They let him be, while keeping an eye on him, for he was a white man, though mad, and black men, even when policemen, do not lay hands on white flesh.
KEEP IT OR NOT: Keep it.
Where to begin reviewing this?
I think its only fair to say that whilst I can't say I enjoyed this book at the same time I can't say I didn't enjoy it - I think there was just something lacking for me personally though what that something was I cannot honestly say.
Without a doubt beautifully written, the authors descriptions are simply stunning - I could feel the bleakness, the heat, the oppression of the farm Mary (for it is Mary's story that the author mainly concentrates on)found herself on - HOWEVER, to me this wasn't so much a story as a chronicle of a lonely woman who seems to have given up on life, a woman merely existing from day to day without any hope that things will get better. (Have I given too much away?)
Quite a frightening read in many ways, it is certainly difficult to believe that such things were occurring in the 1950's, that there was such separation not only between the different classes but between the sexes and, as most evidently portrayed in The Grass Is Singing, between the races, the 'natives' being thought of and treat as little more than savages.
The thing to disturb me most about this book though? The continuous use of the word nigger. Obviously in common use at the time and not thought of a racial slur so much as an accurate description I believe it was realistic and right that this was not edited out of this 2011 edition (the book was originally printed in the 50's)but I admit to feeling uneasy about its usage and have to say I cringed every time I read the word.
Ultimately I'm glad that I did read this as, if nothing else, I got a real insight into the historical oppression of any one who was not a white, middle class male.
A ' Contemporary Collection' offer in conjunction with the Times newspaper and Waterstone's book shops, The Grass Is singing was the 57th book read for my 100+ Reading Challenge.
* Please Note: In this instance I have not used the first sentence as I believe this may spoil the story for some.