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Sunday, September 7, 2014


(Marguerite Poland)

Due to be launched by Penguin Books next week is The Keeper from acclaimed author Marguerite Poland who returns with a heartfelt tale of loss and light.

Her latest novel is set on a small guano island on the south-eastern coast of South Africa in 1957, inhabited only by lighthouse keepers, guano workers and gangs of convicts who harvest the island’s “white gold”. The Keeper tells the story of Hannes Harker, the island’s senior lighthouse keeper and his young wife, Aletta, destined for one of the loneliest and most confined postings in the service. Here they are forced to challenge and confront the three “commandments” implicit in the lives of those who serve the island: never leave the light, never fall and never cross the line.

For Hannes, a keeper’s son himself, the posting to the island initiates a pilgrimage to concealed childhood memories. His fascination with the “light” is intimately bound to his distant, autocratic father, the defection of his brother and the secrecy surrounding the tragic death of his mother. But for the wildly-spirited and guilt-haunted Aletta, also born into the lighthouse tradition, the island brings frightening isolation before it does enlightenment. Thrust into a struggle against the desolating hold of the light, both Hannes and Aletta need to transcend the rigid requirements of an existence that denies the grace of compassion and the value of community.

One of Penguin’s most respected authors, Marguerite Poland has successfully mastered writing for both children and adults. In 2003, in collaboration with artist Leigh Voigt and Professor David Hammond-Tooke, Poland wrote the highly acclaimed The Abundant Herds: a Celebration of the Nguni Cattle of the Zulu People, based on her doctoral thesis. She is one of South Africa’s best loved novelists, whose works include Shades, Recessional for Grace, and Taken Captive by Birds.

The Keeper is published in paperback by Penguin Books. Recommended Price R235. ISBN: 9780143539032

(Review to follow shortly)