Publisher: Enlightenment Productions (Author’s company)
In 1950s South Africa, apartheid is just becoming institutionalised. Free-spirited Amina has broken all the rules of her own conventional Indian community, and the new apartheid-led government, by running a café with Jacob her ‘coloured’ business partner. When she meets Miriam, a young traditional wife and mother, their unexpected attraction pushes Miriam to question the rules that bind her. When Amina helps Miriam’s sister-in-law to hide from the police, a chain of events is set in motion that changes both women forever.
In a system that divides white from black and women from men, what chance is there for an unexpected love to survive?
[Originally posted on Amazon 8/24/10]
The World Unseen was a great read. The writing was smooth and effortless to read. The characters were sympathetic and well drawn, including several secondary characters. The prose vividly portrays the time and place in which the characters exist, bringing it all alive within the reader’s mind.
If you’re looking for a typical lesbian romance though, you may not be that interested. More than one third into the book the two women had only met briefly twice. The story follows their separate lives and then eventually weaves them together. The book is nicely paced, always moving forward, but it’s not a fast pace. It’s more of a slow moving river as opposed to a rushing torrent.
What I truly appreciated was the glimpse I was given into the ethnic and cultural conflicts of South Africa in the early 1950’s. The story takes place near the beginning of apartheid, which was a bit of an eye opener for me in terms of its timing. As Europe and North America moved towards events that would finally bring about more racial equality, South Africa began aggressively moving further in the entirely opposite direction.
The only reason that I didn’t rate The World Unseen with 5 stars is because I felt the ending was much too abrupt. I’m not one of those who needs every ending to be nicely tied up and everything clear. Vague or open-ended endings have their place in fiction and it’s one that I can often appreciate. But in this case I was expecting a bit more and felt teased by the author. It didn’t ruin the book for me by any means, but at the final few paragraphs I was thinking, “Hey wait a minute, you can’t stop there!”