Friday, 17 August 2018

Review: Deceive and Defend by Marilyn Cohen De Villiers

Deceive and Defend by Marilyn Cohen De Villiers
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 960 KB
Print Length: 338 pages
Publisher: Mapolaje Publishers (13 Jun. 2018)
Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
Language: English

Amazon UK      Amazon US 

 Like a pebble dropped in a pond, the effects of two deaths—one in the Johannesburg home of the wealthy Silverman family; the second, hundreds of kilometres away on a Free State farm—ripple across South Africa and the world, irrevocably changing the lives of four people: 

Tracy Jacobs who desperately wants journalism’s highest laurels… and also yearns for love. Now she must choose between saving her career or defending her chance of happiness;

Aviva Silverman who wants nothing more than to live happily ever after with her adored new family. Now she must place it all at risk to defend the family she left behind;

Carol Aronowitz, dedicated social worker who prides herself on her professionalism . Now she must find a way to defend herself against clear evidence of incompetence that has had disasterous consequences; and 

Yair Silverman, Aviva's twin brother, who stands to lose everything as he takes a drastic decision to deceive everyone.

Set against the backdrop of South Africa’s post-Mandela decline, Deceive and Defend is as current and thought provoking as today’s headlines.

Most of the time when I sign up to review a book, a few months pass between agreeing to do so and the actual time I get around to reading the said book. Usually, I've forgotten the blurb information and dive in blind. Then, there's a time like this one, when a coincidence and timing is poignant...My head was already filled with all things about South Africa after saying a final goodbye to a relative born and raised there. Picking up to begin reading Deceive and Defend the following day was a wonderful, welcome opportunity to continue remembering happier times not only of a special person but of a country I am lucky enough to have visited more than once as I absorbed myself into the addictive narrative.

This is the third book in the Silverman Saga and my first. What really stands out is how the author enables a new reader to her work like myself to jump into the narrative running...especially impressive when I often struggle when trying to retain lots of new information, because I never once felt overwhelmed with either names or the plot threads. The prologue is shocking and hooked me in and I couldn't get enough. Told from five different points of view, each plot-line flows effortlessly as they intertwined with each other, offering a chance for the reader to enjoy a different perspective. Each person is dealing with life-changing issues which impact the others.

The author paints a rich landscape of life in Johannesburg and the Jewish community there. I'm a huge fan of learning anything new whilst reading a work of fiction and Deceive and Defend had me Googling facts I either wasn't sure about or simply because I wanted to gain more knowledge. In addition, I loved the inclusion of contemporary headlines to add sensationalism to the narrative. It definitely gave an unexpected 'wow' factor to an already enticing and intriguing novel.

To say I am dumbfounded after finishing this book is an understatement. The words flow effortlessly and I want more. In a year when I decided to branch out with my reading choices, this is one of the ones that will stand out on my favourites list. To sum up, a fabulous book in its own right, but I definitely want to read the first two; A Beautiful Family and When Time Fails to experience the back story of the Silverman Saga.

***review copy received courtesy of Mapolaje Publishing***

I was born and raised in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs, the youngest daughter of an extraordinarily ordinary, happy, stable, traditional (rather than observant) Jewish family. After matriculating at Northview High School, I went to Rhodes University in Grahamstown where I served on the SRC, competed (badly) in synchronised swimming and completed a B. Journalism degree. This was followed by a “totally useless” – according to my parents – English Honours (first class), also at Rhodes.
With the dawning of the turbulent 1980s, I started my career as a reporter on a daily newspaper, working first in the news and later, the finance departments. During this period, I interviewed, among others, Frank Sinatra, Jeffrey Archer, Eugene Terre’blanche and Desmond Tutu. I caught crocodiles; avoided rocks and tear smoke canisters in various South African townships; stayed awake through interminable city council meetings and criminal and civil court cases – and learned to interpret balance sheets.
I also married my news editor, Poen de Villiers and, despite all the odds against us coming as we did from totally different backgrounds, we remained happily married for 32 years and three days. Poen passed away as a result of diabetes complications on 15 March, 2015.
After the birth of our two daughters, I ‘crossed over’ into Public Relations with its regular hours and predictability.  My writing – articles, media releases, opinion and thought leadership pieces and so on – was published regularly in newspapers and other media, usually under someone else’s by-line. But after more than 20 years, I decided the time had come to go it alone. I now work as a freelance wordsmith which (theoretically) gives me more time to focus on what I love best – writing fiction.
So why, after a lifetime of writing non-fiction, did I decide to try my hand at fiction? The catalyst was the unexpected death of a childhood friend and colleague in 2012. This spurred me to take stock of my life, to think about what I had achieved.  A few months later, I decided to try and write a novel. This turned out to be A Beautiful Family which was published in July 2014.  The fiction bug had bitten, and my second novel, When Time Fails, was launched in September 2015. Now, the third and final novel in the Silverman Saga Trilogy, Deceive and Defend, is launching in June 2018… and novel number 4 is percolating in my head.