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Elaine E. Bunbury

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Member Since: Apr, 2002

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What Hope Have You!
by Elaine E. Bunbury   

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Category: 

Family

Publisher:  PublishAmerica ISBN-10:  1588510832 Type: 
Pages: 

327

Copyright:  Oct 26 2001 ISBN-13:  9781588510839
Fiction

"What Hope Have You!" is a story about three families, one white, one black and one of mixed race, in South Africa, extending over four generations and one hundred years. How, first colonialism and later apartheid negatively affected the family lives of black people.

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The story shows how closely the families lived together, and yet so far apart, separated by apartheid. How this system broke down the family life of black people as workers, whose cheap labour were needed in the urban areas, were prohibited from having their spouses and families living with them in order to control the black population in these areas. The apartheid system encouraged prostitution and was one of the main causes of the spread of the HIV/AIDS virus and the problems South Africa faces to-day. Apartheid is history, but its affects live on and it is important to learn from history because, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it" (George Santanyana). -- More Details -- The prologue sets the theme of the novel. The sunny days on picnics, a metaphor for the carefree lifestyle of white people; the sudden thunder storms implies periodic Black unrest. The Gothic reference of waving willow trees forebodes trouble and the laying down together of the orphaned lion cub and lamb, promises hope and reconciliation. The story begins when two women, one black and one white from very different backgrounds and culture, meet. Both are at a low point in their respective lives. The white woman, with her husband and three small children,leave Eastern Europe to escape pograms, travelling to the Cape in a sailing ship and by wagon to Kimberly where diamonds have recently been discovered. She learns her husband is unfaithful to her and feels alone and afraid in the rough mining town. The black woman is a laundry-maid on a farm but there are no jobs for her husband who leaves to find work in the town. After his departure she is raped by the farmer and feels alone and afraid of him and of her father's anger if she has a child of mixed race. Her father is a proud tribal chief. She runs away to Kimberley to look for her husband. She does not find him but meets the white woman who gives her shelter and employment and names her Ruth. They begin a friendship which lasts throughout their lives and together they overcome adversity.When Ruth's light-skinned baby is born, she cries out, "What will happen to this child?" This is the story of what happens to that child and future generations of both the women. How closely they lived together and yet so far apart. As the story unfolds her fears are realised and will haunt future generations, leading to secrecy, subterfuge and separation of the families in a country increasingly torn apart by racism. The novel is about the struggle for political and human rights for black people but it is also about the struggle of women for liberation in a male-dominated society under colonialism in the past and apartheid in the present Against a background of political intrigue and police brutality the plot unfolds. Finally an ironic twist brings the two families together and with the release of Nelson Mandela, there is a new mood in the country of reconciliation and hope. The title "What Hope Have You!" is an exclamation and not a question because, amazingly, black people in South Africa always expressed optimism and hope in spite of decades of suppression.  


Excerpt

.Chapter 29.


Durban
circa 1935 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I was bored. I had enough toys to entertain me but nevertheless, I was bored. I had ridden my tricycle around and around in circles; had brushed my doll's hair until it seemed certain it would end up spiked to the hairbrush and had kicked a stone in a desultory fashion across squares drawn in red dirt in a game of hop-scotch, sending showers of soil exploding in sunlight. What else could I do?

I leant over the handlebars of my shiny, new, red-painted tricycle, hot sun bearing down on my exposed neck as the braids fell apart over my shoulders. The full-gathered skirt of my floral cotton dress was bunched above my knees. A scuffle and muffled giggles captured my attention. I sat up and looked down to the end of the long garden, the forbidden area, and caught a glimpse of two small round black faces; cut across by rows of white teeth and pierced by glistening white eyeballs. Then they disappeared behind the banana trees.

The banana trees were planted to hide the 'eye-sore', I once heard my father call the old wood and iron shack in the backyard where Violet, our black maid, ate and slept. I remember the time I once ventured down to this forbidden area. I had pushed open the door and looked into a round hole at my feet. A shower was suspended from the ceiling directly above with a faucet high on the wall. I quickly ran off, holding my nose, with vomit rising in my throat as the smell rose about me in a vapour, curling up into the mango tree. How could Violet eat and sleep here? It was then I realised that this was Violet's bathroom. I had often wondered why she never seemed to have to go to the lavatory, at least I'd never seen her use ours and concluded that black people didn't go.

"Silly child," was my father's comment when I asked him. "Of course Violet goes to the lavatory but she's black, so of course she can't use ours. Black people aren't that clean you know."

"But," I replied, then fell silent as I saw Violet through the open door, rolling pastry at the kitchen table. My father had already walked outside. I ran to her and put my arms around her waist, hoping she hadn't overheard his words.

"Oew! Katie, what's the matter my child? I can't pick you up my hands are full of flour," holding them out for me to see. I looked at her black hands with pink palms turned upwards, caked white with flour. She returned to her task, cutting the piece of meat then she began to chop the onion and I saw tears spilling from her eyes. She pressed the pastry into the dish, filling it with the meat and onions then covered it with a layer of pastry.

"This is your Daddy's favourite dinner, you know. He jus' loves my meat pie," she commented as she bent over to open the oven door then placed the dish carefully inside.



. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



Chapter 39,

Johannesburg

circa 1954. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



It was Saturday in Soweto. The township streets were noisy. Cabs careened around corners, spraying stones and sand. The vile smell of rotting rubbish rose with the wind that tugged bare branches, blew vegetable peelings and lifted papers and cardboard boxes across the sidewalks. A stray dog with corrugated ribs snuffled for scraps, while children played outside corner stores, kicking soccer balls or old tin cans.

N'tabu walked down the street, eyes downcast, hands deep in pockets viciously kicking a stone, thinking of Hanna and the boy, of the empty days and lonely nights. He had Hanna's letter saying she was pregnant again and recalled the night she was arrested for being in the area without proper papers. They were legally married, and he had a job and was entitled to live in Johannesburg, but she was NOT the arresting policeman had said, vapour rising with his voice as he pushed her out of the house, down the pathway slipping and sliding on the black frost and into the black van.

He remembered watching, his stomach feeling hollow like a scooped out sponspek, he said when he came to see me to tell me about Hanna's arrest and ask for help in tracing her. We found out where she was being held. N'tabu paid the fine and she was released on condition she returned to the Homeland immediately. The months passed and now N'tabu was back in the township again, after visiting Hanna for his annual fortnight leave.



Professional Reviews

What Hope Have You!
This is so much more than a story, and transcends the act of reading... you draw the reader into the turmoil of these people's hearts, revealing the struggle, the heartache... and after the reading is done, there is so much to consider, not only about society and its views, but those views we each have in our own hearts as well.

Christen Beckmann

Snr. Editor. Publish America Inc.


Author sweats the small stuff
"What Hope Have You!" by Elaine Bunbury

.........Bunbury took writing courses at Capilano College,where she earned the respect of her teacher, Reid Gilbert.

The course no doubt honed her talent but Bunbury went into class with a talent worth honing. She makes clear pictures with her words. She takes us back a century to South Africa where a black girl is doing the laundry for an obese white farm wife.

The girl washes the clothes in a tub,"filling it with saucepans of water heated on a coal-fired range." Laundry was hard work then, but at last the clothes are washed and hung on the line:"long grey underpants, red flannel petticoats, calico bloomers, billowed outward, filled by the wind like barrage balloons, bobbing against the blue sky." Bunbury's novel covers four generations of three South African families - one black, one white and one of mixed race. The characters experience a variety of prejudice on racial and religious grounds.

Bunbury knows about South Africa. She was born there in 1928. She and her husband left the country in the 1970's when it seemed that there was no hope of altering the course of Apartheid.

Having seen racism close up, she's a crusader for human rights. Her novel reflects her views.

The book is available at Bolen Books and through the Web site www.publishamerica.com.

Liz Pogue/ Books Editor/ Times-Colonist

Victoria, B.C.


Other Reviews
(Elaine Bunbury) has done an excellent job of rendering the people and places real, and given the historical events the human dimension that brings the big picture to life.

Deborah Yaffe

Dept. of Women's Studies

University of Victoria,





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Reader Reviews for "What Hope Have You!"

Reviewed by Elaine Bunbury 8/31/2003
Review by Marion Cumming.
Dear Elaine, What a wonderfully moving saga you have written. I was stirred to tears several times, especially upon reading of Ruth's death and at the end of your story. In spite of numerous melodramatic coincidences, you create such angaging believable characters, that one becomes deeply immersed and concerned. Your descriptions of nature and landscape are so breathtaking one years to visit South Africa to become enveloped in such panoramas. You have rendered a precious service to your homeland and the world. I hope your splendid work is adapted as a screenplay and for theatre, it's glorious, compassionate message deserves a very wide audience.Thank you for your courage, eloquence and caring spirit, Sincerely, Marion Cumming, Victoria
Reviewed by CUTHBERT MAKWETURA 5/19/2003
insanely readable!!
Reviewed by Giuseppe 3/13/2003
Mi potete far sapere di chi sono questi versi, chi li ha scritti e come si intitola questa opera: E tuttavia è bene che la speranza non cessi di batterci sulle spalle, perché ci ricorda l’esistenza di un paesaggio più vasto e ci aiuta a vivere nei momenti peggiori.
Grazie 1000
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 12/29/2002
enjoyed the preview
Reviewed by Sherry Gibson 11/22/2002
I have not read this novel yet, but after reading the except, it is a must read on my list. Just the small portion I read was written with style and grace. The characters came to life almost instantly!!!!
Reviewed by Lynn Barry 8/4/2002
I read the novel "What Hope Have You!" by Elaine Bunbury because I am attracted to stories about racial injustice. I had no idea what I was in for, though. Growing up in the United States I experienced race riots, interracial relationships and have often wished I was African American because I am disgusted by the way many white people treat black people. This book opened my eyes to even greater injustices in the world, the history of South Africa. Bunbury has written a brilliant masterpiece; historically revealing and in my mind socially relevant in a world of daily struggles between the races still. The author's description of the landscape, the language, the emotions of the cast of literally colorful characters in her epic novel will take any reader's breath not only away, but suck it out of their body. I will be affected by the reading of Bunbury's novel for some time. The ironies involved in the hate that often fosters man made rules about separating races (Apartheid) and the insulting consequences of, in this book's case, a white man raping a black woman and the resulting lineage is beautifully portrayed in this magnificent story.
Reviewed by J.Lindsay 8/3/2002
Why do we read? Well the answer lies in this book. It is a story that shows us the remarkable struggles of three families and hidden strengths they develop from unsuspecting sources into a hopeful future. This story can at times be dark and trecherous as it deals with the unjust legacy of colonialism; yet it also deals with a brigher topic in the power that we as a species has to overcome ineffable odds. Please read this book as it is a learning experience and a true foundation of beautiful literature
Reviewed by Cathy Klaasen 7/30/2002
I recently finished reading your book and wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it. The story and the characters are interesting. I enjoyed the book and learned a great deal at the same time.
Reviewed by J. Betts 7/30/2002
I have just read "What Hope Have You!" I couldn't put it down once I started it. Such an education for one born and raised in Victoria. Thank you for writing the story. I learned so much and enjoyed the tale
Reviewed by Lou 7/26/2002
I feel as though I have been given a view of another world. The book vibrates with authenticity. I became so engrossed I forgot it was fiction. Your characters came alive for me.
Reviewed by Susan 7/26/2002
I truly enjoyed reading your wonderful book,"What Hope Have You!" I couldn't put it down. It was intriguing and educational and a book I shall never forget. It took many interesting twists and turns which made it a real 'page turner' Thank you for writing it.
Reviewed by Monique 7/26/2002
I finished your amazing book a few weeks ago and wow! what an incredible story. I marvel at how you were able to take the facts of your own family history and spin a detailed, creatibve and fascinating portrait of each of its members. You were able to trace and unravel such a complicated and intricate history. And what a gift to your children and your children's children to teach them all about their roots.
Reviewed by Gloria Marlow 4/17/2002
I've never been much farther than my own backyard in Florida, but Elaine Bunbury's description left me feeling that I had seen the streets of a town in South Africa. Very descriptive and interesting.


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