RATOONS by Daphne Rooke


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A Grove of Fever Trees and Mittee have established areas, both physical and mental, of turbulence and have made claim to the florid-to-sere South African background. Here, in addition to the white and black worlds, she has added that of the Indian,- the indentured and their descendants, so that the story of massive, arrogant John Angus and his daughter Helen is tied in with that of the Zulu, Zetke, and the children of Indian Leela and Periam. Helen's illegitimate son, Nicky, is claimed by her father and her secret, known not only to the workers in their sugar cane fields but even to their white neighbors, the Drews, the Lamberts and the Farrells, is the catalytic agent that brings a mounting tragedy into their lives. Nicky is the cause of her refusing Richard Drew, of her silence about his true paternity before his father, Chris, of her hatred for Leela's daughter Chanjaldi -- ""adultress, thief and liar"" --, and of the enmity of her son, Sowa. John's desire for vengeance is responsible or the death of another of Leela's daughters and Sowa knows a final revenge when John dies in the firing of the cane. An inward, uneasy first person telling in which the deviations of personality are highlighted by the three way pull of daily living and the humor, loyalty, hate and love have grim, harsh overtones. Profuse in both characters and narrative line, this, while not profound, takes hold and has its way.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1953
Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin -- Ballantine