Book reviews, Family drama, Historical fiction

You Will Be Safe Here by Damian Barr – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A beautiful and heart-breaking story set in South Africa where two mothers – a century apart – must fight for their sons, unaware their fates are inextricably linked.

Orange Free State, 1901. At the height of the Boer War, Sarah van der Watt and her six-year-old son Fred can only watch as the British burn their farm. The polite invaders cart them off to Bloemfontein Concentration Camp promising you will be safe here.

Johannesburg, 2010. Sixteen-year-old Willem is an outsider who just wants to be left alone with his Harry Potter books and Britney, his beloved pug. Worried he’s turning out soft, his Ma and her new boyfriend send him to New Dawn Safari Camp, where they ‘make men out of boys.’ Guaranteed.

The red earth of the veldt keeps countless secrets whether beaten by the blistering sun or stretching out beneath starlit stillness. But no secret can stay buried forever.

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MY REVIEW 

You Will Be Safe Here is a tale of South Africa and parts of its troubled history. Told in two distinct timelines, the 1900’s and more recently, 2010. 

There’s Sarah, a Boer woman whose husband has left to fight the British, leaving her, her son and servants at home. The British milithen arrive, take all their possessions, set fire to the home and take them all to a concentration camp. The conditions were horrific with sickness and starvation rife among the prisoners.

Then there is Willem, in 2010, his mother and stepfather leave him at the New Dawn camp to ‘make a man’ of him.

Both tales are brutal and heartbreaking. This is beautifully written and packed with emotion and a little hope.  It’s shocking and utterly compelling and will stay with me for a long time. A stunning, haunting read.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/2XpLdUE

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Maggie & Me’ is my memoir and ‘You Will Be Safe Here’ is my first novel. You can follow me on twitter @damian_barr and insta @mrdamianbarr. I host my own Literary Salon at the Savoy: http://www.theliterarysalon.co.uk

‘You Will Be Safe Here’ is set in South Africa in 1901 and now. It explores legacies of abuse, redemption and the strength of the human spirit – there is always, light even in our very darkest moments. I didn’t imagine it would feel so urgent when it was published.

‘South Africa, 1901, the height of the second Boer War. Sarah van der Watt and her son are taken from their farm by force to Bloemfontein Concentration Camp where, the English promise: they will be safe.

Johannesburg, 2010. Sixteen-year-old outsider Willem just wants to be left alone with his books and his dog. Worried he’s not turning out right, his ma and her boyfriend send him to New Dawn Safari Training Camp. Here they ‘make men out of boys’. Guaranteed.’

Inspired by real events, it uncovers a hidden colonial history and present-day darkness while exploring our capacity for cruelty and kindness. Here’s what some writers I admire are saying:

 

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