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Touching the Lighthouse is, on one level, simply the story of two young women in search of their adult selves – but they are living in the South Africa of recent history, which electrifies this story with the tension of conflicting perspectives. Their youthful recklessness and passion find a disturbing foil in their cleaner, Maud, who may be the oracle of their future – a future which will judge their individual struggle for maturity against the wider struggle for the liberation of South Africa itself.

Caught up in the tide of history, Susan and Jennifer find their friendship affected by the conflict mounting around them and their desire to be part of the process of change, at a time when justice itself is on trial.

The city of Cape Town is evoked through Jennifer’s eyes – an island of paradoxical vibrancy within the harsh struggles and contrasts of South Africa.

This is the tale of how Cape Town failed her – and how she in turn failed it, with its lights and shadows, its humour and all its tragedy.

Touching the Lighthouse is is written with the same sure sense of place and time which gave The Innocence of Roast Chicken its impact. It is a worthy successor to that novel.

Review quotes

Her writing has the tang of authenticity, so that it seems as if she is truly remembering rather than inventing . . . The result is as engrossing as it is impressive – Allan Massie, The Scotsman.

A vivid picture of the times– Judy Cooke, Mail on Sunday (UK).

She is a lovely writer – The Times(UK).

A wise and substantial literary novel – Daily Telegraph (UK).

… its intense relationship between two women, played out against a backdrop of a febrile, hypersensitised, schizophrenic city where emotions grow and decline like gusts of the Cape Doctor winds. A must-read for anyone familiar with the place. Philip Hoare, Books of the Year in the Gay Times. (UK).

It is perhaps most accurately through novels that we gain a sure perspective of what our past was about . . . as such, Touching the Lighthouse forms an important part of the literary history of South Africa – Cape Times.

Her sense of place is persuasive and the story she tells is an interesting one – Mail and Guardian.

Touching the Lighthouse is written with the same sure sense of place and time which gave her first novel its impact and is a worthy successor. – Marlette Dodd, Leisure.