ISLANDSEditorial Review - Kirkus - Jane Doe
A sprawling historical charts the 1650 arrival of the Dutch in what is now South Africa and limns the troubles that followed.Real-life figures stand at the heart of South African National Archives researcher Sleigh's first outing, reputed to have been two decades and more in the making. Early on, one of those figures, Jan van Riebeeck, arrives at Cape Town as colonial governor for the Dutch East ... Read full review
User Review - Flag as inappropriate
I consider Islands to be the War and Peace of South Africa. I have read War and Peace many times, and am now on my third reading of Dan Sleigh's original Afrikaans version of Eilande. I have not read the English translation.
This epic novel is not a light read and I believe that poor reviews here are written by people who dislike real writing. The historical details packed into the book are accessible and well incorporated into the narrative, and as a South African I find them fascinating and very meaningful. When I was at school we were taught a very sanitized version of our history, with anyone who was not white either left out entirely or cast as the Bad Guys.
Islands changes all that.
What I love especially in rare, classic novels like this one, is that they recreate an era when history is made, through story telling. They bring to life lost landscapes, and I loved reading about Cape Town before it was a developed city.
Every character in the story represents multifaceted aspects of South Africa's early colonial past within the greater context of conflict on the European continent. I recommend this book very highly.