The Way of the Women by Marlene van Niekerk

The Way of the Women

Marlene van Niekerk

It is 1990 and paralysed Afrikaaner farmer Milla de Wet replays her married life from 1950 to 1980, as her 'hotnot slave' Agaat cares for her. This is a novel about power, political and personal, which also demonstrates the strength of self-delusion. It is not an easy read as Milla's memories slip unconnectedly between the years and between first and second person narratives, but it is well worth the effort as it is so thought provoking and the translation is excellent.


You tried to get to your feet, shouted against his tirade. Then why don't you go away? Why do you stay with me if I'm so dreadful?
You grabbed at him, thought he would come to his senses if he felt a touch. But he took your hands and threw them from him.
I can't go away, Milla, even if I wanted to. I'm stuck here! You batten on me! But I'm almost done, do you hear me, almost. Then you can advance again. You've provided a reserve after all. In the hanslam camp. Agaat Lourier. Pre-raped. Yes, don't look at me like that, it's the truth! As no man can rape a woman. She's ready for you! To the bitter end! Because that much I can tell you now, I'm not going to make it all the way with you Milla, that I know in my bones!

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