Book Review: Johannesburg


I am one of those people who chooses their books based on the cover and then I read the back to see if the synopsis catches my fancy. So, it’s no surprise I was initially drawn to this book by its cover, because it is eye-catching, but also its title. Once I had it in my hands…I have to admit, it took me a few weeks to get into this book, I had to FORCE myself to continue reading on. This really frustrated me, because I like books to hook me in from the word go; but alas we can’t have it all it was a s-l-o-w burner….


The whole story is based on the day of Nelson Mandela’s death, December 5th, 2013, it goes through various characters who all become interconnected due to one central event. A daughter, Kitty, is planning an 80th birthday party for her mother, who is eternally unhappy, she is also very disgruntle as Kitty is unmarried, without children and moved away to live in New York City. Kitty is a free-spirited artist, who is constantly seeking her mother’s love and approval and planning this party is her attempt to finally be seen by her mother. Peter, Kitty’s childhood friend, who is desperately in love with her, but is constantly rejected and discarded by her. Lastly September, a severely disfigured, homeless man, who was shot in the head after attending a protest at the company Peter works for.

Break it Down:


As the story evolves, you begin to anticipate what the penultimate event which connects each character will be. I will admit that when it finally came, I was really disappointed and had to reread just to be sure I hadn’t missed it. Overall, I have to say that I was disappointed about the character development- there was a lot of implied “back stories” to the characters, but within the book, this was never revealed. The main character Gin (Virginia) could have been a good character to develop a book around, as she seemed to be complex, but we never got to the core of the character and to be honest, I didn’t really warm to her at all. For me, the most intriguing character was Peter, because I wanted to explore why he was never able to move on from Gin, despite his successful career- he seemed to have a deeper almost seedy side to him, but again this wasn’t explored within the book. I have to admit that as Nelson Mandela is one of my heroes, the fact that this book unfolds around the day of his death and how it impacted 5-6 characters, was one of the reasons I picked up the book. After completing the book, I really don’t know what Mandela’s death had to do with the characters and the story line, it was never clarified within the book, which admittedly was very disappointing.


The RnR Rating:


We would give this book a rating of 2/5, mainly because we enjoyed the descriptive nature of the writing, so the reader is able to get a visual of what the scene looks like. We gave it a low rating because the development of the characters were lacking and the whole Mandela premise felt as it was a way to potentially sell more books, we didn’t feel it was well thought through.


Would I recommend the book?:

Not really, it’s not a horrible read, but I have read many other books that I would be far more overjoyed to pass on and share, and this one wouldn’t make the list…yeesh. The story wasn’t gripping or alluring enough to get me talking about it.


Have you picked this book up? What are your thoughts and feelings about it? Let us know! Do you have any recommendations?

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