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Monday, October 15, 2012


Highly readable novel on how not to run one’s life! (Review by Caroline Smart)

A strange title but it says it all - this is pretty much a training manual on how not to run one’s life tied up in a highly readable novel.

Kate is a lost soul. She’s over 40, lives on her own and her work as an editor at a publishing house is highly demanding. Her first “how not to do” is her decision to go online to a dating website to look for partners. Very few of them are even remotely suitable. However, she links up with one who seems more suitable than the rest. Or is he?

Kate has one problem which intrudes on any relationship she tries to pursue. She takes on an emaciated and abandoned young dog (an Africanis) which turns out to have major health issues. The heartbreak she endures over the animal’s condition – and its eventual death – drains her resources even further.

The anaesthetic of a glass of wine – or two or three – beckons and things spiral to a level where Kate realises she is out of control and the spectre of her alcoholic father and his abusive behaviour looms.

Life is not easy but often the problems are of Kate’s own making. While the reader sways between irritation at Kate’s irresponsible behaviour and bad choices, Bregin charts the process so you eventually grant the heroine a growing respect. Her journey reflects the many issues South Africa is still working through - social, racial sexual. Also there’s the reminder that responsibility for one’s own actions is an unavoidable fact of life. As ye sow so shall ye reap.

Bregin is a skilled writer when it comes to describing Kate’s home environment and surrounding landscape. Her work as an editor at UKZN Press stands her in good stead with this novel. She also lives with a number of dogs herself so any animal lover will relate to Kate’s anguish.

Survival Training For Lonely Hearts is published in paperback by MacMillan EAN:9781770102347 and eBook EAN: 9781770102354 – Caroline Smart