A beautiful schoolgirl mysteriously disappears into the South African veld. Forty years later, thirteen members of the missing girl's swimming team gather at their old boarding school for a reunion, and look back to the long, dry weeks leading to Fiamma's disappearance.
As teenage memories and emotions resurface, the women relive the horror of a long-buried secret. A stunning and singular tale of the passion and tribalism of adolescence, Cracks lays bare the violence that lurks in the heart of even the most innocent.
Book Beginnings and Friday 56 are hosted by Gillion over at Rose City Reader and Freda over at Freda's City. Hop over there to join in on the meme fun!
'The white sky meets the flatness of the plain, pressing down heavily all around. In front of the school nothing moves except the shimmer of heat. It is all distance, flat land, sky, and the slight trace of the river that runs slow and dun beside the graves toward the low, blue hills.
Looking out, so many years later, from the red-roofed buildings of our Dutch-gabled school across terraces lawns and veld toward the river and the wattle trees, we can no longer see the graves,but we can still hear the hum of the mosquitoes that swarm along the banks of the stagnant water. We can still smell the thick smoke of Miss G's cigarette.' p.5 (first page)I realise I shared quite a lot from the beginning but I thought it would be good to show how beautifully Kohler's descriptions flow on and on. While the film moves the plot to somewhere in England, the novel is set in South-Africa and Kohler speckles her writing with Afrikaans words. The surrounding seems to have a really big influence on the characters, on their sense of freedom, so I thought it'd be nice to share that sense of openness while also showing how Miss G hangs over their memory of the place.
'Leaning far out the window, Bobby Joe told us the man looked like a fairy with golden eyes.' p.55-6There were no good teasers on page 56 itself, so I sneaked part of a sentence on p.55 in! I really like the way Cracks gets you involved in the dynamics between the school girls, how each has their thing they excel at, their weakness, their desire for something else. The closeness that the isolation of a boarding school fosters is something I was always both glad to have missed out on and slightly jealous of.
Have you read Cracks or seen the film? And how do you feel about boarding schools in books?