This is a book about raconteurs and renegades, writers, poets, provocateurs and pop stars, artists and activists and a cross-dressing doctor. From Africa's first black movie star and Drum covergirl, Dolly Rathebe, to Glenda Kemp, the snake-dancing stripper who shook up the verkrampte social mores of the 70s, these are the riveting true tales of women who broke with convention and damn the consequences.Lauren Beukes has produced Broken Monsters and The Shining Girls of late. In this 2015 publication of a book originally written in 2005, she is joined by Nechama Brodie, who helped update it, and added three chapters.
Yes this is history. But don't think dry, dull and boring. Think highly entertaining, whacky and written with a dry wit and sharp insight.
Some excerpts may hook you:
Chapter 1 tells the story of Daisy de Melker, who went on trial for poisoning two plumber husbands and a slacker son.
"But despite her dowdy looks and her general sullenness in court, which included hissing 'Liar!" at witnesses she felt to be twisting the truth like a koeksuster, Daisy could be surprisingly charismatic."
And "But just when it looked as though she might get off, she was undone by an imaginary cat and a keen-eyed pharmacist."
Sure, these women provided amazing material by living extraordinary lives - big, bold and to hell with everyone, but there is also a knack to telling their stories with empathy and charm, which Lauren and Nechama did.
They had me gasping with delight, roaring with laughter and shaking my head in disbelief. I started this book thinking to pace myself, and read a few chapters per week. I ended up devouring it one weekend, in a binge of enjoyment and satisfaction.
Definitely one to buy, read and keep on your shelf.
You may also enjoy The Whip by Karen Kondazian.