The Undesirables – Dave Boling
If I ask you to picture a concentration camp, you’d probably think of Nazis, Auschwitz and gas chambers, wouldn’t you?
But actually the concentration camp was a British invention – we came up with the format of imprisoning ‘undesirable’ people way back in 1900 during the Boer War.
Set in one such camp, this is a heart-warming and eye-opening tale of one girl’s struggle against the oppressors and how she copes as she comes of age.
This is the second book from Dave Boling, who, if you remember, I raved about “Guernica” almost a year ago now. I thought he wrote a stunning book, and so I was very excited and very lucky to be sent “The Undesirables”, Dave’s second novel and not due to be published until January 2014.
I have to say that it more than met my expectations….
Just like “Guernica”, “The Undesirables” uses a family, a moment in history and powerful emotions to tell a tale of hardship and horror. You will witness the terror of the British through the eyes of an innocent teenage girl, and have your heart-strings pulled as she sees death, destruction and defiantly flouts camp rules.
In a nutshell, the book follows the life of a young girl called Aletta Venter.
When the British invade South Africa for gold and diamonds, her father, brother and uncle – Boer farmers – answer the call to fight, leaving behind Aletta, her mother, little brother Willem and sister Cee-Cee on the farm.
Convinced they were helping the Boers, they can do nothing when troops arive and burn their home to the ground.
Transferred to a prison camp, Lettie finds it hard to adapt to camp life – the rules, the lack of food, the death, the disease….
Are all Brits bad? Or are they two people confined by similar circumstances?
I won’t ruin this incredibly moving story for you, but let me just say that Dave Boling masterfully weaves together a tale of hardship, and geopolitics, and combines it with a farming family you can relate to.
Yet it’s the character of Tommy Maples, the reluctant camp guard that will knock you for six. I can’t say much more, simply because it’s not out for a few months and I’ve been very lucky in being one of the first people to get their grubby mitts on a pre-publishing copy!
However, trust me when I say that “The Undesirables” will become one of the most desirable novels of 2014. If this doesn’t pick up awards and get championed left, right and centre I will give up book reviews.
So remember where you heard it here first. I will come back and re-visit this novel in January when the “paid” book reviewers get their reviews out!
This is a real gem of a novel.
The Book Boy Rating – 4.5/5