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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

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