- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Picador (February 7, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1250124573
- ISBN-13: 978-1250124579
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Woman Next Door: A Novel Paperback – February 7, 2017
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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"A tale of a rivalry between two well-to-do widows and next-door-neighbors in South Africa...On the surface, author Yewande Omotoso presents a war of wits, but the story also addresses the history of colonialism, slavery, class and race as tensions come to a head."―Time (Female-Driven Books, Movies, and Shows We Can't Wait to Get Our Hands on in 2017)
"Incredibly smart...[The Woman Next Door] will delight you from start to finish."―Cosmopolitan (Best New Books to Read This Spring)
"With humor and charm, [The Woman Next Door] depicts the collapse of a feud between two elderly women―one white, one black―in a tony Cape Town suburb. Call it a female take on Grumpy Old Men."―O, The Oprah Magazine (Ten Titles to Pick Up Now)
"Two elderly Cape Town widows―one black, one white―find their mutual animosity fading in Omotoso's wise and witty tale."―People
"[The Woman Next Door] takes off in surprising ways, sometimes to shocking effect as instances of racial cruelty are recalled, or upsetting at a different level, when the descendants of former slaves make a valid claim for restitution...The novel’s complex plot and convincing characters develop beautifully together and are lightened throughout with flashes of excellent comedy."―The Washington Post
“[A] provocative, enlightening, and at times outrageously funny novel...With an acutely perceptive eye, Omotoso paints a picture of the subtle changes in [Marion and Hortensia's] interactions. As their snipes and barbs morph into attempts at understanding, their personal growth reminds the reader of what is still occurring, on a grander scale, in the country these memorable women call home.”―BookPage
"Omotoso treats her characters and themes delicately and deftly, allowing their complexities to naturally reveal themselves...The Woman Next Door is a thought-provoking representation of timely issues, peppered with smart humor and unforgettably fantastic female protagonists."―The Riveter
"Cape Town's answer to Mapp and Lucia, a war of wits and witticisms amid the bougainvillea of an impossibly smug neighborhood. Yewande Omotoso's deft writing and subtle weaving in of difficult history will leave you in love with these two stubborn old women. Delightful."―Helen Simonson, New York Times bestselling author of The Summer Before the War and Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
"At once historical and contemporary, The Woman Next Door is charged with beauty, precision, nuance, and hope. Yewande Omotoso is a stunning, essential voice."―NoViolet Bulawayo, author of We Need New Names
“Omotoso's warm and witty story is more complex than a simple tale of black and white...Like Helen Simonson’s Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, which also depicts the wisdom found in aging, this novel will have universal appeal.”―Library Journal
"Omotoso captures the changing racial relations since the 1950s, as well as the immigrant experience through personal detail and small psychological insights into mixed emotions, the artist's eye, and widow's remorse. Hers is a fresh voice as adept at evoking the peace of walking up a kopje as the cruelty of South Africa's past."―Publishers Weekly
"Yewande Omotoso's voice is exciting and fresh. The aesthetic and political engagement in her work is explored through a deep compassion for her characters and their social positions and constraints, without compromising on a fierce yet tender interrogation of their inner lives: race, place and the social web of expectation versus the freedom of an inner life, a complexity of self that she works out through beautiful and uplifting language."―Chris Abani, author of The Secret History of Las Vegas and The Face: A Cartography of the Void
"Although new to the scene, Yewande Omotoso writes with the skill, intelligence, and compassion of an old master. One of the astonishing achievements of The Woman Next Door is her ability to see all sides of a story. Only such keenness of vision could produce this enlightening and eloquent novel that serves as a testament to a truth that we seldom hear: through honest exchange, it is possible for us to free ourselves from the terrible hauntings of history."―Jeffery Renard Allen, author of Song of the Shank and Rails Under My Back
"A pleasing tale of reconciliation laced with acid humor and a cheery avoidance of sentimentality."―Kirkus Reviews
"[The Woman Next Door] made me howl with laughter and it made me cry."―Biyi Bandele, author of The King's Rifle and director of Half of a Yellow Sun
"Richly imagined...You might not know anyone like these two, but there’s no doubt they exist―Omotoso is that good. Open your friggin’ mind, dude."―Library Journal (Books for Dudes)
About the Author
YEWANDE OMOTOSO was born in Barbados and grew up in Nigeria, moving to South Africa with her family in 1992. She is the author of Bom Boy, published in South Africa in 2011. In 2012, she won the South African Literary Award for First-Time Published Author and was shortlisted for the South African Sunday Times Fiction Prize. In 2013, she was a finalist in the inaugural pan-African Etisalat Fiction Prize. She lives in Johannesburg, where she writes and has her own architectural practice.
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The story takes place in predominantly present day South Africa but moves back and forth in place and time as the main character's stories are revealed. Marion is a white woman and former architect who gave up her career to raise four ungrateful and emotionally distant children. She is the chairman of the neighborhood committee. She is very controlling and tries to keep up the veneer of a perfect life, though her husband died leaving her bankrupt. She is also prejudiced. Hortensia is a black woman who married a white man in England, eventually moving to South Africa. She is a successful textile designer who has no children. Her marriage is also unraveling and her husband leaves her some unpleasant surprises after he dies of a long illness. Hortensia is bitter and angry and protects herself with biting comments. She always knows the perfect retort to hurt another person. Marion and Hortensia are neighbors and they hate each other. An accident that affects them both forces them to be together and to somewhat let down their guards.
It is difficult to write a book about two unlikeable characters and still make the reader feel sympathy for them. The author accomplished that quite well by showing how they both started life as passionate and unconventional women and became bitter and hateful. I also appreciate that the main characters change just enough to be believable. At the end of the book, they have an uneasy truce and are still working on a friendship. They are building a foundation of love and respect, but they are not there yet. And the snarky comments still fly! The writing is lovely. I also learned more about apartheid in South Africa, which I appreciate. I highly recommend this book.
Soon there is an accident. Hortensia shares her house with Marion. During that time Hortensia shares her memories of marriage. Marion shares her life as a mother and grandmother and her remembrances of her parents. It is interesting to read about the tortures of widowhood. After the death of a spouse, secrets come forth. Secrets that you can not sweep under the carpet. Poor Hortensia.
It is true. The moments of hardships are not few in "The Woman Next Door."Marion experiences money problems. Sometimes what we depend on becomes lost to us. In this case, there is a painting.
In the end, you have to think deeply about friendship. Sharing only happiness is not always the way one comes to form a bond. I have to say the end left a question in my mind whether the understanding between these two elderly ladies would falter again or grow stronger or stagnate. I choose to believe time spent sharing is never wasted no matter the fruit it leaves behind. There are also different ways to experience wisdom one from another. There is something in the book that is bound to touch the heart of anyone and leave a lasting book memory. For me, it is the moment when Marion's granddaughter comes to visit.