The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso Chatto & Windus (Penguin Random House) 288 pages R305
The strong-willed and elderly Hortensia James is a renowned fashion designer with her own firm. She is also the only black homeowner in Katterijn, a ritzy suburban community of Cape Town. To spite her archenemy and next-door neighbour, Marion Agostino, Hortensia attends Katterijn’s monthly community meetings, where frank interjections cruise from her smart mouth unabatedly, fuelled by the confidence of a woman over 80 years old and too close to death to care about the consequences.
To an extent, Hortensia succeeds in keeping the rich, white, self-righteous senior citizens of Katterijn in check while undermining Marion’s alpha status. Both are recently widowed women with impressive professional achievements, and both carry the weight of emotional baggage that