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A young girl grows up during the nineteen-forties in one of the German farm communities of the Natal midlands in South Africa. These communities were made up of the descendants of Germans who had emigrated to South Africa in the second half of the nineteenth century, mostly in connection with Lutheran missions to the country; conservative in nature, these mini-societies haroured a nostalgia for an imaginary Germany that only ever existed in the nineteenth century, maintained their language and religion, and retained a set of patriarchal structures in family and congregation.
The stories are told through the growing consciousness of a sensitive child, thin-skinned and often bruised, but also decidedly resilient and lively.
Hanna and her sister Lottie are inseparable. They explore the farm yard in a desultory fashion where the father shoots a puff adder and the brothers prepare for their assumption of the ownership of the land. Parents are warmly protective, but in the house a group of maiden aunts rule from the moral high ground of their position of dependence. Hanna’s growing awareness of sexuality is sharply authentic. The war that has been going on in Europe ends: Germany surrenders.
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