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Country Life Podcast: Carol Campbell

Country Life Podcast: Carol Campbell

Nancy Richards meets up with Carol Campbell on the Country Life Podcast

Author Carol Campbell has released her third book The Tortoise Cried its Only Tear (Umuzi) in January 2019. Nancy sat down with her to talk about her life in Scotland, where she wrote her latest novel and her love of the Karoo.

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Review: The Tortoise Cried its Only Tear

It’s the present, and young Siena has done something terrible. Past events that led her to this point are laid out like a labyrinth of stones in the veld, a labyrinth in which a young life can easily get lost and forgotten. Siena is a young karretjiemeisie from the Karoo who travels long stretches of dusty road with her people in donkey carts outspanning where they can and wherever there’s work. Not much of a life for a child. But Siena is different, she has spirit. And more importantly, hope. We meet Boetie with whom she finds a sort of kinship. Then there’s Kriekie, who works at the truck stops. Siena’s own Ma is a drinker and Pa knows how to survive in the veld, but later has to sell the donkeys. A flicker of hope rises when Siena goes to Seekoegat Primary School. There’s sweet, white coffee, she learns how to read and write, and there’s loving Aunt Esme. Boetie and Kriekie’s stories of difficulty and despair unfold in the book and both reappear in Siena’s life. But the soul that really stalks the story is that of the tortoise, all tortoises. Slow and vulnerable, they are easy prey for hungry humans, but as Pa warns, ‘A tortoise cries one tear, and that is when it dies. If you eat a tortoise, everything we know will be forgotten’. Wrenching. Haunting.

The Tortoise Cried its Only Tear is available from all major bookstores from R240.

Carol Campbell

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