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The Keep

304 pages5 hours


The story is about the Leyton family, of Russian-Jewish descent, living in Johannesburg, South Africa, in the 1930s. The father, Rayfel, is a lawyer who aspires to political power. He believes the racially divided country can be saved by liberal democracy. His wife, Freda, despises Johannesburg society and longs for romantic drama in her life. Their articulate, imaginative, even visionary daughter, Josephine, is precocious in her understanding of those who surround her at home and at school, and is troubled by the injustices some of them suffer. She has extraordinary empathy with her handsome, inarticulate brother, Simon. He is a force of nature, wild, at times to the point of savagery. The adults live as Europeans in an Africa that remains mysterious and alien, beautiful but dangerous to them. Its menace lurks even where they feel most safe in their suburban home. In the end, it defeats and destroys them all except Simon.

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