– by David Charlesworth
International best seller The Power of One by the late, great Bryce Courtenay is among the great classics to read before you die, however its sequel, Tandia was a bit disappointing.
In Tandia, Courtenay chooses to show the tale through very different eyes with the other end of society being shown.
Facing struggles of rape and racial hatred from all sides, the books titular character, Tandia fights for her place in the world, intertwining her story with that of friend Peekay.
Born the illegitimate daughter of an Indian father and African mother, Tandia initially lives out a somewhat comfortable under the protection of her loving father however after his death, her life immediately comes crashing down. Raped by a police officer in the graveyard the day after her father’s funeral, she ends up in a brothel but under the hand of the women, she there finds her strength.
Peekay’s journey continues after defeating his childhood bully, The Judge, going to University and fighting to become the Welter Weight Champion of the world.
Becoming a lawyer with his friend Hymie, he meets Tandia and when a love grows between them they face a danger greater than either had ever encountered, embodied in an old shared enemy, Jannie Geldenhuis.
Courtenay skilfully captured the soul of a tumultuous period of modern history through the eyes of two very different people.
Through the depth of the characters, their thoughts, feelings and hopes you felt every victory and wept every tragedy with them.
In intimate detail the sport of boxing was still played out as the arena where characters true mettle are revealed.
What brings it down however is that while the story is initially grounded in a harsh authenticity the end is nowhere near as based on reality as when it began.
Towards the end the plot is clouded with prophecies and fate, which for me ended a great story on a sour note.
What had made the story so immersive for me was the real world struggle and achievement of the characters.
The fatal flaw though is that it doesn’t match up to the book it follows and we are left comparing it to the first.
Tandia is a good book but it unfortunately lives in the very large shadow of its predecessor. It is an exciting and powerful follow-up and closes many loose ends left at the end of The Power of One.