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Meg Bergman is fifteen and fed up. She lives in a tiny town in rural 1990s South Africa - a hot-bed of traditionalism, racial tension and (in Meg's eyes) ordinariness. Meg has no friends either, due largely to what the community sees as her mother's interfering attempts to educate farm workers about AIDS. But one day Xanthe arrives - cool, urban, feisty Xanthe, who for some unknown reason seems to want to hang out with Meg.
Xanthe arrives into Meg's life like a hurricane, offering her a look at a teenage life she never knew existed. But cracks quickly begin to show in their friendship when Meg's childhood friend Simon returns from his gap year travels. LEOPOLD BLUE is an emotionally taut and beautifully-written story from a debut author with a mesmerising voice.
said Mum. ‘She got away! She ran away from the men with guns!’ Beth paused for a sip of water. ‘Do you know that after all she went through some people doubted that she was in fact Anastasia. But it was obvious – she had absolutely no idea what money was!’ Beth shook her head in wonderment. ‘I’m going to call my daughter Anastasia.’ I turned to Mum. Four years ago I had brought home the same story. She threatened to call the Cape Provincial Education Department. When I begged her not to,
I’m far behind in maths, and Margaret has offered to help me catch up. If I don’t, my father –’ She broke off, and looked over her shoulder, as Juffrou Kat and I watched. ‘There will be trouble at home if I don’t improve my marks,’ Xanthe said softly. ‘Would you mind if we used this one hour to work in the library? It would make such a difference.’ Xanthe smiled at the teacher, who astonishingly smiled back, if only for a second. Then Juffrou Kat turned to me. ‘Maths,’ I said, nodding.
in the Latin Quarter. How did you find your way there?’ ‘I had a good … guide,’ Simon answered with a little laugh. A clap of laughter from Dad and Mum exclaimed, ‘Simon, you devil!’ ‘What?’ demanded Beth. ‘Never mind,’ said Mum. But Dad leaned over and whispered into her ear. ‘Ooh la la!’ shouted Beth and and made kissing noises. ‘Simon, are you blushing?’ asked Mum, in her maddening voice. ‘Us coloureds don’t blush, you know that!’ he smiled. My fork clattered to the floor. I
giving each year when I imagined what it would be like to jump up and walk smartly to the stage, skip up the side stairs without a stumble, and shake Miss Franklin’s hand as I accepted my well-deserved prize. Mum had been polite about my handful of ‘B’s, but instead of the expected ‘could do better’ lecture, she’d barely glanced at the results, which irritated me even more. I pictured her now, sitting next to Dad in the block of chairs reserved for parents, clapping and smiling, applauding
then fixed her eyes on the new girl: ‘Well, now, Santie, welcome to our class. Let’s add you to our register,’ she said opening the wide book; ‘So that’s s - a - n?’ she raised an eyebrow. ‘X.’ ‘I beg your pardon?’ ‘X - a - n - t - h - e.’ The girl spelled her name with an admirable slowness. It stopped a shadow short of being rude. Her accent sounded virtually foreign. That would make her from Cape Town. They often did that. Juffrou frowned in confusion. ‘Really?’ Her heavy Afrikaans