Linda returns to the family orange farm in South Africa to attend her father’s funeral. She is drawn back to her past, to the striking beauty of her homeland and the people who still live and work there, but her country is vastly different to the one she left in 1985. A democratic government has emerged from the shame of apartheid, yet it’s a violent land where extreme poverty, AIDS and TB exist alongside western affluence and where beliefs in ancestral spirits and voodoo still linger below the surface.
Her father’s last wish was for Linda to investigate the murder of her youngest brother and the guilt of those accused. Ghosts of the past guide her search as she seeks the dangerous truths behind each new lead. As the lies unravel her family will be dishonoured, a shameful past will be revealed and yet there is one great hope for reconciliation and the future.
About the Author:
Joan Zawatzky was born in South Africa. After completing her studies, first in art and then in psychology, she moved to Australia, where she worked for many years as a counselling psychologist. Though painting remained a hobby, she decided to try her hand at writing. She wrote There’s a Light at the End of the Tunnel, to help her clients overcome depression. The Scent of Oranges, her first novel, is set in South Africa and was shortlisted for the Australian Books Alive Programme in 2007. Recently she began writing full-time. The Elephant’s Footprint is her latest novel, and the next in her South African series. She lives in Melbourne with her husband and their Siamese cat.
Praise for the Scent of Oranges:
“The elegance of Joan Zawatzky’s writing is a big part of what makes this story so memorable and delightful. Her words flowed right through me and led me into a story so full of life, nature and relationships. I never wanted it to end.” Ashley Merril, Front Street Review.
“The Scent of Oranges by Joan Zawatzky is the first book I’ve read by this author but hope to read more. Right away I was transported to South Africa. I could picture everything that Linda saw as if I was her. Joan captures the essence of South Africa with the mystery and intrigue of murder.” Cheryl’s Book Nook
“Zawatzky’s style is wonderfully descriptive and I felt transported to South Africa through the pages of the book. I also loved learning more about South Africa and its people. The Scent of Oranges dynamically explores intense interpersonal relationships and I found it fascinating.” Tara’s View on Books.
“The South African setting is beautifully recreated, with lovely descriptions of the landscape and people, and the author has written a thoughtful depiction of life under the terrible system of apartheid and its aftermath.” Book Buzz
“I think this novel will really appeal to people who like to sit and savour the writing and …a mystery unfolding.” Peeking Between the Pages
“I was intrigued by the storyline and the uniqueness of the characters. It was fascinating to be taken to a new place, into a culture so different from anything I have known. I was just as curious as Linda, as she continued to push through dead ends and as she discovered astonishing things about her family. The ending did not disappoint.” That Book Addiction
“I really enjoyed this book. It was so sad, yet poignant. So many lives were ruined all because people judged others by the colour of their skin and not the type of person they were. It was an excellent read. It gave me plenty to think about. So buy it!” The Bluestocking Guide
Linda Van Wyk, who left South Africa 19 years earlier to build a new life in Australia, returns in 2005 to her homeland to attend her father's funeral at the outset of Zawatzky's so-so debut, a family saga with a whodunit at its heart. In a letter he wrote the year before his death, Pa charges his daughter to look into the murder of her youngest brother, Hannes, who was savagely stabbed 40 years earlier as a teen. Though three black men confessed to the crime, Pa's revelation that they did so under duress leads her to question their guilt. As Linda attempts to honor her father's last request, she must also come to terms with the changes in South Africa since the end of apartheid. Predictable revelations, such as another sibling's affair, provide possible motives for the murder, but the amateur sleuthing won't impress many mystery fans. Readers may be more interested in the author's view of the altered roles of whites in the country they once dominated.