The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
Published by Picador on February 7, 2017
Genres: contemporary fiction, literary fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Recommend to fans of: novels that give older people a true voice
Read with food: Early Grey tea with milk
Hortensia James and Marion Agostino are neighbours. One is black, one white. Both are successful women with impressive careers. Both have recently been widowed. And both are sworn enemies, sharing hedge and hostility which they prune with a zeal that belies the fact that they are both over eighty.
But one day an unforeseen event forces the women together. And gradually the bickering and sniping softens into lively debate, and from there into memories shared. But could these sparks of connection ever transform into friendship? Or is it too late to expect these two to change?
Rarely do I finish a book and not have something to say about it. However, I’m struggling to find the words to properly sum up this book. I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing.
The Woman Next Door tells the tale of two older women who are neighbors, but have been enemies for a long time. Set in South Africa, the story has a long history of tension and struggle behind it.
One woman loses her husband, falls, and requires in home care. Another’s house need renovations, and so the two end of temporarily living together. It is the perfect set up for drama and lots of it. However, the writing and the characters are subtle and much more mature than that. Through their current situations, we learn about their lives. The good, bad, difficult, and celebratory.
The author does the characters justice and gives them a wonderful voice to share their perceptions and experiences.
The one major downside is that in the paperback version the pages are thick and weirdly textured, which I found annoying. If I left my bookmark fully inside the book, it made it really hard to find. Not that big of a deal, but annoying after it kept happening.
I definitely recommend this subtle but wonderful novel.