Far Forbidden Plains

Christina Laffeaty, Author St. Martin's Press $22.95 (512p) ISBN 978-0-312-03337-8
Set in South Africa during the early 20th century, Laffeaty's novel chronicles, with some hitches, the troubled relationship between Petronella van Zyl, a naive Boer farm girl, and Marcus Cohen, a wealthy Jew. The two become lovers, but when they make their feelings public, Petronella's puritanical mother disowns her. When Marcus's deeply religious family follow suit, he is forced, against his will, to renounce Judaism. Attempting to regain social respectability, he volunteers to spy on British troops during the Boer War, but is caught and exiled to Bermuda--while Petronella suffers in a squalid concentration camp. A clever ruse enables Marcus to return to South Africa for their wedding, but Petronella grows jealous as he devotes himself to preaching for the Church of the Reformed Evangelists. Caring for three sons increases her misery, for she totally lacks maternal emotion. The novel begins well, but plot complexities come to weigh it down; the abrupt conversion of Marcus and Petronella's son from villain to contrite son is another shortcoming. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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