24 July 2012

Mrs Readalot Reads a Classic and Holds a Giveaway

Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton

It's a pretty old book, this one. Published in 1948 just after the war and just before Apartheid was implemented, Cry the Beloved Country is a book about South Africa that stirred people all over the world. 

The book inspired two major movies as well as stage shows, musicals... and countless social justice reformers.
It was a huge success around the world, selling over 15 million copies. The book is a story, yes, but it's more than that. Within its pages are revolutionary ideas which seem normal and obvious to us nowadays, but when the book was first written, they were dangerous and provocative.

Mrs Readalot was blessed to win her copy from this month's Book Club host, Meghan from MNM's. A lucky thing indeed, because the library copies are still all out - a measure of this book's enduring popularity.

[From the 1995 movie starring James Earl Jones]

Cry the Beloved Country is not an easy read. It's not.
I did not look forward to curling up in bed with this book at the end of a stressful day, it did not transport me to a magical world far away from the cares of the world.
Rather, it shoved pain and grief and humanity into my face and made me think, made me feel.
At times I didn't want to read any further. I dreaded turning the page and finding that the worst had happened.

I was reminded of another revolutionary classic, Uncle Tom's Cabin, which I read many years ago. That book was instrumental in changing opinions in 1800's America about the lives of slaves and is credited with helping fuel the abolitionist cause.

Cry the Beloved Country is very similar to Uncle Tom's Cabin in that it created waves, it divided opinions and revealed injustice in such a way that people could not ignore it. You can't read these books and not be moved and challenged.

This quote from which the title came, sums it up:

"Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear."
[Alan Paton]
Of course with the exit of Apartheid from South Africa in the 1990's this books is far less dangerous and controversial than what it would have been sixty years go when it was written. Right on the cusp of the birth of that evil system, the author wrote his book with an almost Biblical authority and insight (he was a dedicated Christian and his faith in the face of human suffering is a powerful theme of the book).

Alan Paton's life is an interesting read (on Wikipedia). He was not just a provocative writer but he lived out his ideals and tried to do something about the inequality he saw.

I wouldn't say that this book was enjoyable, but it was powerful. And memorable. It deserves it's status as one of the true Classics that have helped shape our world for the better. I'm glad I read it (and I think I might have to see the movie too).

Mrs Readalot gives Cry the Beloved Country:


Mrs Readalot wants to give you a book. Not just any book - but the book of your choice. Got a novel on your reading wishlist? A book you've been waiting for at the library but the waitlist is six years long?
Well, Mrs Readalot wants to buy it for you.

There's just a couple of things you'll need to do.
  1. Leave Mrs Readalot a comment on the bottom of this post telling her which book (novel, biography or non-fiction) you'd really love to own and you'll get one entry into the draw.
  2. Link up a book review to the Bookclub Linky over at Stacey's Place  (open until August 31) and get another entry into the draw. 
A name will be drawn out on September 1st*, and you will be notified by email. Mrs Readalot will ask you for your postal details and order the book from Book Depository for you the very same day.
So get commenting, reading and linking to Win a Book.

If you are a keen reader, we'd love you to join in.
How it works:
  • Book Club members take turns choosing a Book of the Month (or theme) and hosting the linky
  • You can choose to read and review either the Book of the Month or a book of your choice
  • Anyone can join in the linky fun - you don't have to be a signed up member
  • Members are kept up to date via email, so nobody misses their chance to link up or host
  • Linkies go up on the host's blog at the beginning of the month and remain open all month 
  • If you're linking up, grab the button...
  • Mrs Readalots bloggy Bookclub

August  Bookclub (linky open until August 31st)
Stacey over at Dear Future Me is hosting and has come up with a great idea for Bookclub - rather than choosing a specific book, Stacey has picked a theme: "Books that Make You Want to Travel"

Stacey explains...
"As I'm currently in England for a couple of years, travelling, I want my Bookclub Theme to be books that make you want to travel or help you feel close to a country (similar to what Meghan has said about 'Cry the beloved country' and how that made her feel about South Africa.) There are other books like 'The Kite Runner', 'The Bronze Horseman' 'The Help' etc that have that same effect... Fiction or non-fiction books that draw you in to a country and particularly to its history and culture."

So for August please share with us a book (or books) that make you want to visit a country, or which capture the essence of a place for you

(and don't forget to leave Mrs Readalot a comment with your Book Choice, so you can Win a Book)

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