A wonderfully acute portrayal of the relationship between two women: Hortensia, the only black house-owner on a pretentious estate in the Cape Town suburbs, forcing herself to attend residents’ committee meetings ‘to mock them, to point out to them that they were hypocrites, to keep herself occupied;’ and Marion, the white next-door neighbour she loathes. At first, their exchanges are dominated by fierce verbal skirmishes (one of the joys of reading The Woman Next Door is how wickedly funny it is) until they are forced through a series of accidents into a kind of intimacy. This novel brilliantly evokes what it feels like to get old. There is no happy ending, no escaping their respective decline into old age and eventual death, but there is a kind of coming to terms with each other and with their lives that is deeply moving.
About the book
Hortensia and Marion are next door neighbours in a charming, bougainvillea-laden Cape Town suburb. One is black, one white. Both are successful women with impressive careers behind them. Both have recently been widowed. Both are in their eighties. And both are sworn enemies, sharing hedge and hostility pruned with zeal.
But one day an unforeseen event forces the women together. Could long-held mutual loathing transform into friendship?
Love thy neighbour? Easier said than done.
About the author
Yewande Omotoso was born in Barbados and grew up in Nigeria, moving to South Africa with her family in 1992. She is the author of Bom Boy, published in South Africa in 2011. In 2012 she won the South African Literary Award for First-Time Published Author and was shortlisted for the South African Sunday Times Fiction Prize. In 2013 she was a finalist in the inaugural, pan-African Etisalat Fiction Prize. She lives in Johannesburg, where she writes and has her own architectural practice.