Cape Times - - LIFESTYLE - Jen­nifer Crocker

Clare Hous­ton (R205) PEN­GUIN

HAN­NAH Har­ring­ton has fled Cape Town to work at a book­shop in a small and pretty Eastern Free State town.

The own­ers are off trav­el­ling, and Han­nah is look­ing for a way to es­cape her ex-boyfriend, and her rather de­mand­ing par­ents.

She finds the town to be ev­ery­thing she wants, there is a cozy cof­fee shop and she quickly makes friends with the owner.

And then there is the farm with the an­gry owner Alis­tair who is a wid­ower, his wife hav­ing died trag­i­cally.

Han­nah set­tles swiftly into her hide­away home and all seems fairly bu­colic. That is un­til she starts sort­ing through a box of dusty old books and finds a di­ary that ap­pears to have been writ­ten by a young woman in a Boer War con­cen­tra­tion camp.

Just who is Rachel Baden­horst and how is she linked to the hilly plateau out­side the town.

The place that some of the lo­cals swear is haunted. There is also no record of a camp in the area.

As Han­nah nav­i­gates Rachel’s hor­ri­fy­ing story, the reader is in­vited to get to know mod­ern-day Han­nah and the chal­lenges she faces in try­ing to build a new life.

Some­times the un­cov­er­ing of his­tory brings its own kind of pain, and there is cer­tainly enough suf­fer­ing in the lives of some of the lo­cals of the lit­tle town.

Clare Hous­ton has writ­ten a very read­able book that lures the reader into think­ing that it is a charm­ing story about life in the kind of town where many city dwellers long to es­cape to.

Of course though noth­ing is all pure and good.

There is a dark vein of his­tory that lurks be­neath the life of each char­ac­ter.

It’s a fairly placid and charm­ing book, un­til the author adds a plot twist to the story of Rachel that will have the reader reel­ing. |

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