Black Dog Summer

Miranda Sherry Black Dog Summer

Miranda Sherry
Black Dog Summer

Miranda Sherry will take you by surprise. She is this gentle, beautifully spoken, pretty blonde whose path intersects with mine in a class we sometimes have the privilege of sharing. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to read a book written by someone you actually know on a casually social basis and enjoy it. It would be dreadful for me if I had read this book and thought, eeeeuuuuwwww, how do I fake my way through this, but reading it was not like that at all.
For all that looks can be deceiving Miranda, looking very much an unassuming and gentle soul has written a tale that doesn’t spare you from the harsh realities of crime and life in South Africa. Yet, at the same time the book enchants you as all the threads come together and suck you into the story.
I am not sure what genre to slot this book into, I don’t think that it really needs to be put into a box but for the purposes of this review, shall we say it is an incredibly dramatic suspense thriller or something of that sort.
It took me a little while to get into but once I was in, boy, was I in, and I spent the entire night reading to finish the book.
The writing style is elegant and easy to read. The story poignant but visceral. It is told mostly from the point of view of Sally, the deceased mother of teenager Gigi as she watches her former world in slightly detached fashion. Is it a ghost story? No, well, I don’t think so, but is very much a South African story.
I did have a little giggle because the Silverman family pops up in this novel, not the same branch of the family as in A Beautiful Family by Marilyn Cohen De Villiers, but Silvermans none the less. I got to wondering how come the Silvermans have become the only Jewish family to have achieved debut novel literary fame twice in the last couple of months 🙂

I don’t know if you heard Miranda being interviewed on Classic FM a couple of weeks ago, I did. She read a couple of pages of Black Dog Summer on air and that beautiful voice is a perfect accompaniment to her novel, in fact, I think that is the voice I heard in my head whilst reading her book!
Miranda Sherry’s debut novel is well worth a read and welcome to the new South African talent on the block.

Miranda will be coming to chat to us at Indulgence Cafe, Northcliff on the 15th of November at 2pm. Feel free to come and join us.
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Oh My Aching Heart, Gareth Patterson

Gareth Patterson's  My Lion's Heart

Gareth Patterson’s
My Lion’s Heart

As I read the final page of this book, I remembered why I read fantasy and fiction novels most of the time; they provide an escape from the hardships of life in general. They create doorways to worlds that don’t exist, they open your imagination to lands of mystical beasts and magic, to wondrous creatures and they pretty much always end happily. One cannot say the same for reading life stories and autobiographies, not all are pretty and not all end happily and some just leave you shaken and stirred, sans the olive.

Gareth Patterson’s autobiography, although being steeped in the harsh reality of life in the African bush does not fail to evoke the images of lands of mystical beasts and magic and wondrous creatures, which is all the more heartbreaking for it’s sad reality. I spent many pages of the book with tears running down my face. Maybe I am just a really sensitive soul but Gareth writes so honestly that one cannot fail to take on his pain as ones own. I felt it, I cried when he cried, I walked with him when he walked with his lions, I sat with him when he looked after cubs, I sat in the back of the Beetle as he motored around Africa and I held his manuscript close to my chest as the lost plane traversed the skies in the dark. I shared his heartbreak and I wondered how he had managed to not go insane.

I find it nothing short of remarkable that a young man would choose to spend his life living in the wild and amongst the animals that he loved, from the bush to the forest when the majority of his contemporaries would have been hanging out in pubs and nightclubs and chatting up pretty girls. One can only be grateful that there are people in this world who put Mother Nature and the call of the wild above that of material possessions and fast cars.

I cannot say I enjoyed reading this book, it is not the type of book you can enjoy. You will not look back on it as one of your “best of all time reads” but if it doesn’t affect you viscerally then there is something lacking in your psyche. My Lion’s Heart is an incredible read about an amazing man who has selflessly dedicated his life to the well being of lions and to elephants, and in turn to mankind. It is not an easy read but it is easy to read. Gareth’s style is simple and elegant and hauntingly evocative. This book is a sad testimony to the greed of man. A very sad indictment indeed. It belongs on every school syllabus throughout South Africa and the World at large.

Humankind has a tendency to destroy everything we touch in the name of progress (and religion). By encroaching and eroding the natural habitats of these amazing animals we do ourselves and our planet a huge injustice. We ridicule Mother Nature and we insult the Universe. Progress is not the annihilation of species and the hanging of their preserved heads on the trophy wall.  If we do not wake up and lend assistance the the people who go out of their way to help preserve the Kings of the Jungle and the Majestic Elephants of the Forest, as well as our very own Unicorn, the Rhino, then these creatures can only end up as the mythical beings of ages past, and the animated characters of musicals and Hollywood animation.

I salute you Gareth Patterson. Thank you for allowing me into your head, for bearing your wounded soul and sharing your broken heart. And thank you for bringing your lion children to life in my world

A Tale That Needs Telling

Basha, Baby by Lee Marcus

Basha, Baby by Lee Marcus

I am a reader, I am pretty sure that you have cottoned onto that fact about me by now with all my references to Bloody Book Week events, and authors coming to speak at Indulgence Cafe. I was introduced to my first books by an aunt who instilled in me my love of books from an very young age. She managed to instill a love of books that 12 years of schooling and English classes never, as hard as they tried, managed to destroy for me.
Granted when you are 12 years old you should not have been reading Judith Krantz’s Princess Daisy (1980)or Shirley Conran’s Lace, but I did and loved them and I am pretty sure they should have had age restrictions on them because I learned a couple of things a 12 year old really shouldn’t know. My early year books were things like Jeffery Archer’s Kane and Abel, Barbara Taylor Bradford’s Woman of Substance and an entire host of “Rags to Riches” tales and sagas that my young mind lapped up hungrily and without reserve.
Books created a door to a world without borders and a land of mystery and wonder and boy did I explore with abandon.
Then I discovered a whole new genre that I didn’t know existed, fantasy, and that was me done. Fantasy became and remains to this day my big love. The chance to travel into strange lands, meet fire breathing friendly dragons, witches beyond evil, wizards who save the world and creatures conjured out of sea water and mist is escapism pure and simple for me. I love the genre of fantasy books. They are the only books I keep, all the rest, the thrillers, the dramas, the action adventure books, become pass around to friends but my fantasy books I have learned not to lend out; you never get them back! That I learned the hard way.

With the advent of AuthorTalks at Indulgence Cafe I started to come into contact with authors and their publishers which began to open my reading world a little more. I was now being exposed to local talent, to genres that I had not read before, South African crime novels, chick lit, and non-fiction, like Tony Leon’s Accidental Ambassador. I developed ties to publicists at Jonathan Ball, Random House Struik and Penguin to name a few, I could now reach out and ask for authors because after years of plugging away, Indulgence Cafe was starting to earn recognition as a literary venue. I branched out from just reading the books and letting the authors stand in front and talk about their books to actually interviewing them and I started writing my own stuff, like this blog for instance.
I am giving you all this detail so that you will understand where I am going with this particular blog post; people have started approaching me to read their books and revue them. An interesting turn of events for me and I admit to having suffered through more than a few books until a customer walked in the door with an interesting tale to tell……………

Citizen X approached me with a book that was written by a little old lady. I thought to myself then and there, stop while you’re ahead, obviously he didn’t hear my thoughts because he persevered. He then presented me with a copy of this book written by this little old lady and told me to read it.One of only three copies printed and available in South Africa. Another one I thought, do I have to? I did! I loved it. Basha, Baby resonated with my core, I read it from cover to cover overnight and then I wanted to know more!

Who is Lee Marcus the author of Basha, Baby
Lee Marcus (nee Nathan) was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in November 1922 and became an author soon afterwards. Her first manuscript was written on a very long piece of toilet paper, which in 1928 bore no resemblance to the layers of soft tissue used today. Her father was her earliest reader and critic, and asked if what she wrote was the truth or a fib. She indignantly told him it was a story. He said that if she was going to be a storyteller she must learn to spell properly, and he bought Lee her initial dictionary…………….
The story of the conception of her only published novel, Basha, Baby is as dramatic as everything else in her life. It has been 38 years in the making, as Lee stopped the process whenever work was plentiful and would begin again during slower times. She returned to the book in earnest the day after her first computer was set up, but her eyes were already beginning to fail her. She kept going until the macular generation completely blinded her, and then a few friends came to assist. The first two chapters of the now complete and punctuated novel were sent to a publisher, who asked for more.
At this point the computer files became corrupted and the first draft of Basha, Baby was lost for good. For all intents and purposes Lee Marcus’ novel was gone. She was heartbroken, and distraught. There were previous drafts but she didn’t have the energy to begin resurrecting the book again.
Another friend heard the story and offered to help.
And so, thanks to Lee’s prodigious memory, a file full of handwritten notes and some previous drafts, a new version of Basha, Baby was drafted.
And now Lee Marcus, ever the drama queen, has now had her first novel published in her 90th year.

The Press Release:
Throughout her life Basha fought to keep alive that small flame which lit her being. Whether in Toender in Denmark, St. Petersburg in Russia, London in England, Durban, Standerton or Johannesburg in South Africa, Basha’s life has been determined by others.
Sent as a child by her impoverished parents to a better life with an uncle in Russia, Basha battled to overcome her rage at being separated from her family, and especially her Zayde, her grandfather. Aided by her beloved sister, Eva, and Pavli, her greatest friend and the man she should have been allowed to marry, Basha employs all her wit, talent, imagination and humour to forge her life.
The shock of an arranged marriage to a weak and Victorian man, David Tannerberg, whom she scarcely knows, tests her mettle further, as does maintaining his business when he leaves London for Durban.
Five years later, Basha sells the business and takes the family to join David, who gives every appearance of having forgotten them, or wanting to do so. She discovers new joys and different heartaches but her compassion, generosity and strength never desert her in finding gratification and beauty in unexpected ways.

Praise for Basha, Baby
‘I found it absorbing … It’s the kind of tale of ancestry that so many dispersed families could tell, but Lee Marcus brings it to life with painful honesty and vivid dialogue.’ Arthur Goldstuck – author of seventeen books including The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Internet, The Ghost That Closed Down The Town and five books on urban legends. He is a freelance writer for numerous publications, from Cosmopolitan to The Times of London and Billboard.
‘Lee Marcus has devoted a long and generous life to artistic expression – and to using her love of writing to help others express themselves. This story of human courage is the culmination of a career dedicated to story-telling in all its many forms.’ – Joanne Richards, author of The Innocence of Roast Chicken, Sad at the Edges, Touching the Lighthouse, My Brother’s Books.

Does my reading experience and exposure to books, authors and publishers qualify me to take the next step? I don’t know the answer to that question, however I sure hope it holds me in good stead because I have taken the liberty of becoming a “publisher” and in conjunction with Rebel-e Publishing have had 20 copies of Basha, Baby printed for sale to the public. I know 20 copies isn’t a huge step but I loved this book and I feel it does need a home on bookshelves everywhere, so I took the plunge.
This book spoke to my soul, I am sure that to a large degree it has to do with my being Jewish, Lee Marcus refers in the book the street where my own father was born in Fordsburg, Johannesburg. I loved this book so much that I need to share this experience with you!
Come and meet the lady who wrote this book that I loved reading so much, come spend the afternoon of the 12th of October with us and explore with me the tale behind the tale that needs telling……….

Lee Marcus will be at Indulgence Cafe on 12 Oct @ 2pm to tell her amazing tale
For bookings please email me on