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  • Location: Simon’s Town, Cape Town

The Girl From Simon’s Bay

The Girl From Simon’s Bay

Why a Booktrail?

1937: A seashell and a sealed letter form a tenuous connection to a forbidden wartime romance

  • ISBN: 978-0749021306
  • Genre: Historical

What you need to know before your trail

Simon’s Town is a vibrant and diverse community in a picturesque part of the Union of South Africa. At the heart of the town is the Royal Navy port, and Louise Ahrendts, daughter of a shipbuilder, really wants a destiny beyond that  of domestic service. She dreams of becoming a nurse and has all the determination to make it happen

But then the Second World War breaks out and the port becomes a hub of activity, Louise meets Lieutenant David Horrocks. Despite the gulf in their backgrounds and the expectations facing them from family on both sides, Louise and David are determined to be together.

But as the end of the war approaches and a new troubled moment of history dawns, will they find their way back to each other?

Travel Guide

Simon’s Bay

Simons Town, Seaforth Beach, the stunning mountains and views of the bay, the fragrant winds, the mystical sounding birds and oh the fynbos:

“Even the local word, fynbos, struggled to describe a  vegetation topped with flowers more feathered than petalled, in which squadrons of long-tailed  fought one another over the nectar”

Simons Bay is  a place where racism is rearing its ugly head and non – whites are being forced fom their homes. Life is harsh here, brutal and for Louise, almost impossible. Nursing, her way of helping her people is never going to be easy. Mixing in any way with a white man is going to be not only nigh on impossible but dangerous

“After the eviction notices, Simon’s Town went about its business lie the sea recovering from a storm: the surface smooth but the waters beneath it churning with the remnants of the recent blow.”

There are a few fictional locations in the novel of course such as  the civilian hospital but the sense of place and time are evoked with style and care. Attention to detail helps cover the rest.  A town under control, a people under duress and a couple only hoping that the future will be kinder than the past.

From the author:

“Today, Simon’s Town is the home of the South African Navy and still welcomes seafarers and visitors to its beautiful shores. You can visit the town’s excellent museums to learn about its history (Nelson called, did you know that?), go and see the penguins at Boulders Beach, take a dip in the azure sea or simply soak up the glorious air. It’s a little bit of paradise close to the tip of Africa…”

Booktrailer Review

Susan: @thebooktrailer

Amongst the many stories I’ve read about WW2, there’s not many that I can remember as being told through the eyes of two people, a man and a woman of different status in life as well as a different coulour in such a place of Simon’s Town.

There are several threads to this story and the history and the emotions of the people come across loud and clear.  Louise’s story builds well and then we meet Lieutenant David Horrocks as her patient, and from that moment on the story really takes off.

I think the edge of this story was that it had so many facets to it, the background was the story as was the location and the people there. The forced evacuations and the shock of the people shoved out of sight were heartbreaking. The senseless state that is apartheid is really shown in all its naked stupidity. Barbara Mutch has clearly done her research and the way she describes and evokes the setting – beauty amidst such horror – is a delicated balance she does really well.

This was an interesting read for me and really opened my eyes to a new part of history and a new angle of it. Simon’s Town is now on my list of interesting places to visit one day, but for now I will simply keep this book to hand and one day hope to see the preserved town that stands today.

Booktrail Boarding Pass: The Girl From Simon’s Bay

Author/Guide: Barbara Mutch  Destination:   Simon’s Town, Cape Town  Departure Time: WW2

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