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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Stella by Susan Wuthrich

Jemima gets the shock of her life when she gets a very official letter from Immigration asking her to contact them when she applies for a passport. Apparently,  her birth certificate is a forgery, there is no proof that her father was born in the UK and hence she is looked at with suspicion.

Jemima's mother has passed away and it is only her grandmother, old and frail who may be able to help Jemima to put the pieces of her life together. Unravelling it a piece at a time, Jemima comes across a puzzle spread over South Africa, New Zealand and Britain and a conspiracy on the part of several people who have kept the pieces so well hidden that it takes a lot of detective work for Jemima to find out that not only was her father not who he said he was, she has a sister, a host of relations plus the fact that she is classified as "colored" in apartheid South Africa.

Set in an era towards the end of WWII, with South Africa being at its nastiest on the apartheid question, the problems of mixed race are very clearly and bluntly described and it is horrifying. The effects of the regime which did its best to keep to a "whites only" policy were horrible and how the rest of the world despite the sanctions, just seemed to look the other way is significant. So many issues facing everyone that one tends to ignore some of them and pretend they do not even exist. 

Family sagas are for me, particularly interesting. Coming from a very small unit, I love these large extended families with strong familial connections and bonds.  This was one of those stories which held me enthralled right to the end. Each character was wonderful, some of them disgusting but still all connected to each other and part of the main story.

Would highly recommend this book to all lovers of a good story, well written. Never mind the family saga and the historical background.

The book was a free download from Netgalley through Troubador Publishing.Limited.


  1. This sounds like a really good book.

  2. Love the sound of this one, I'm like you ... family sagas fascinate me. Putting it on my wishlist!

  3. I like family sagas too, especially when secrets are involved. I like the sound of this one!