Heaven sent

BY SAMANTHA GIBB

Constance West is dead. However, this does not stop her from returning to her hometown of Scheepersdorp and surveying all she left behind; her family, neighbours and friends, as well as her garden.  Connie has unfinished business, and only 12 hours to attend to it.

During her life, Connie communicated through plants. Her love of horticulture and animals saw her through tough times, and was also a method of demonstrating joy and adoration. Her prize plot of land has become unattended; this, she learns, is a symptom of greater changes since her passing.

Connie returns to a time of great change in South Africa. Scheepersdorp now bears witness to its first black mayor, despite the persistent undercurrent of tension among middle-class white neighbours. However, within this environment, happiness appears to flourish. Connie’s sister, Sylvia, seems content, and her young daughter Marianne is growing up. The only visible shadows seem to lurk around those with whom she shares secrets, and it is here that she must shed light and banish her demons. Against the backdrop of her beloved Yellowwood tree and the Kanonkop she loved to hike, Connie slowly reveals her past, and the various decisions and actions which led to her current predicament.

Rycroft deserves the highest praise; she has penned a truly mesmerising book which any reader will be driven to consume in a single sitting. A Slim Green Silence should come with a warning label. The story is so immersive that there truly is a risk of the reader neglecting their own lives as they follow Connie and uncover her secrets. The narrative is poetic and captivating, painting a rich picture demonstrating immense depth. The story itself is so beautifully crafted, slowly growing and blossoming, revealing itself carefully yet deliberately. Sensitive topics such as race and disease are handled with grace, and the sheer depth and scale of emotions is hypnotising. This is a story which elegantly weaves together comedy, tragedy and poetry. For the sake of South African literature, Beverly Rycroft should immediately commence another book; she is a literary hero we crave, a true master in the making.

A Slim Green Silence is published by Umuzi.

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