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Thankyou to Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read Kismet by Cynthia Sacht and Ilona Beutum.

Kismet means fate or destiny.

It is 1997, three years since Apartheid was dismantled. A new South Africa has emerged. There are new opportunities, but some people remain supportive of the past era, unable to change their attitudes.

Kismet is a luxurious Manor house built by Abram Lewin with the proceeds from his successful steel business.

The story is about the fate of the people who live at Kismet, their families and friends, their present and past, and their complex, intertwined relationships.

Currently, Steve Lewin, Abram’s son, and his wife Lexie live in Kismet Manor. They are wealthy and white South Africans. Steve is somewhat of a playboy, not working since the steel business was sold. Lexie is an attorney and also a panelist on the TV show “Live Talk”. Lexie has begun to question their safety in this new regime.

Their great dane dog, Sparks is a wonderful character!

Kate Mabusa is their live-in black maid. She has worked for the family for 25 years. Her 2 children live in Soweto, cared for by her relatives. Kate can only visit them on her Sundays off. Her daughter Felicia, would love to become a doctor. And her son Elias is a talented painter who has left school.

The love of her life was a white man, but their love at that time was a crime. Even though the laws have changed, some people’s attitudes haven’t.

The family doctor is, Dr Henry Keyler, also a TV Panellist on “Live Talk”. He is intent on promoting unity across the racial divides. He is wealthy and white. His wife and children disagree with his views.

The South Africa of this time is still a place of violent crime and racism.

Through this mix of characters, we are given an insight into the history of the New South Africa of this time. What it was like to be white, black, or of mixed-race. The differences between being affluent and poor.  Unfortunately, the masses were still poor and still dependent on the white minority group.

With some love stories and an unexpected murder, the book keeps you wondering what will be the fate of all the characters.

There is a quote at the front of the book “Be the light that helps others see, it is what gives life its deepest significance” by Roy T Bennett. It is very powerful, and I hope one day that there will be lots of “lights” and a world without racism.

I was really pleased to have had the opportunity to read this book. I  really enjoyed it and learned a lot about the history of  South Africa, which previously I knew very little about. The book does make you think, particularly how lucky we are in Australia.

ISBN: 9781925908527

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Kismet by Cynthia Sacht and Ilona Beutum. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

16 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Kismet

  1. Reading this was quite an education on South African life, and the difficulties with relationships between black and white people, and also those of mixed race.
    Kismet, is the name of a property, a substantial manor home, and follows the lives of those who have lived, and also worked there.
    At the beginning it flowed well, but then jumped to the tale of a maid from the property, and her relationship with a white Doctor, which resulted in the birth of a child, now an adult.
    At this point in the book, the original characters story, was pushed to the back, and it concentrated on the life difficulties for the maid, her children, and her lost love, the Doctor.
    It then jumped back to the original storyline, and completed the breakdown of the relationship between the major characters from that part of the story.
    Even though of all of theses characters lives were intertwined, I personally found the story lost my interest and was somewhat confusing, when it went in this different direction. Because of this , I felt the conclusion of the story to be rushed.
    An intersting background and characters, but for me it was confusing and just didn’t flow the whole time.
    Thankyou to Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read Kismet by Cynthia Sacht and Ilona Beutum.

  2. Wow, Kismet threw you in at the deep end. When I first started reading it, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to continue due to the darkness and violence right at the beginning but once I got past that, it definitely became an interesting story!

    Whilst I knew some of South Africa’s history, I must admit my knowledge was certainly quite lacking and I was surprised at the sheer racism that continued in some people even after apartheid ended. As someone who is empathetic and a firm believer in equality, some of the characters made me want to slap them down, but then that is a sign of a very well written character because I am so moved by them.

    If you are someone who can handle a very not fluffy storyline, then this is definitely an eye opening read and one I would recommend. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to read and review it.

  3. Unfortunately it seems that the original review I left on this book disappeared, and of course was one of the few reviews I’ve ever posted that I didn’t keep a copy of! So I apologise if this review is not up to my usual standard.

    Many thanks to Beauty and Lace Book Club, and the authors Cynthia Sacht and Ilona Beutum for the opportunity to read and review Kismet.

    Kismet is set in South Africa shortly after the abolition of Apartheid and reflects the difficulties faced by many blacks and coloureds as the country grappled to come to terms with what the end of Apartheid meant. Many whites who had been raised with the strong belief that blacks and coloureds were somehow less intelligent, and ‘not quite human’ were unable to change attitudes that had been ingrained into them and the change in the law did not change the way they saw and treated non-whites.

    Coloureds continued to fall into a class that was rejected by both the blacks and the whites. Whereas previously liaisons between blacks and whites could result in jail time this was no longer the case, but their progeny continued to be shunned by all.

    Kismet is a hard-hitting exposé of life in South Africa at that time. Sadly aspects of attitudes then continue to this day, not just in South Africa, but in other countries that also have a black or coloured population (think the USA with the African American and their First Nations people, Australia with their First Nations people).

    Kismet is not an easy book to read, reality rarely is, but it is a brilliantly written, in your face book, that all who look to make this world a better place should read, take to heart, think about their attitudes and ingrained prejudices and work on strategies to improve the basic human right of equality for all.

    A five-star read from me.

  4. Thank you for the opportunity to read this ebook, Kismet. It is a true exposure of the reality of racism in South Africa. Apartite was not that long ago. This shows the lived reality from the black, coloured, and white perspective. I have an interest in racism in Australia. Since George Floyd, I have become more aware of racism in America
    This raw, tell it as it is book, has given me insight yo the impacts of racism in South Africa

  5. Thank you so much to all the readers for their feedback.
    Please let me know is 4.6 is considered an average or high rating.
    I would have sent this sooner but I was waiting to add a website. It is still happening. Again, I am overwhelmed by the wonderful service you provide.

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