Publisher: Sphere Books 1983, pages 501, paperback. ISBN:0-7221-7734-8
Condition: very good plus (VG+).Spine excellent. Pages colour in accordance with age.
A superior tale of farmers, diamond-diggers, and merchants in South Africa, 1857-1900. A strong, resilient woman quietly dominates the novel: Georgia-born Susan Parker, who arrives in the 1857 inland wilderness as the plain, stocky bride of a sexless missionary--but soon, after a murder/rape attack by Hottentot bandits, becomes the soulmate/wife of would-be livestock farmer Frans Delport. Slowly, Susan and Frans carve out a primitive homestead; daughter Marie is born (but is she perhaps the child of the Hottentot rape?). And then, the nearby diamond strikes attract more and more foreigners. Among them: illegitimate young English sailor Jack Farson; and Russian-Jewish-born, London-bred David Kade. Jack and David become partners on a claim at the diamond diggings.Jack befriends the Delports, captures restless Marie's love/lust, but adores touring singer Lily--and briefly wins her by fatally injuring her prizefight-champion protector. Meanwhile, David is gradually lured from the diggings into partnership with rising merchant Levinson, whose tender daughter Hilda is clearly part of the bargain. So, when Lily takes off to Europe to begin an opera career, there'll be two marriages: David and Hilda become diamond-dealing townfolk while Jack and Marie struggle with Susan (Frans slowly dies) to save the Delport farm. But the Jack/ David partnership is soon re-awakened when Jack hunts for diamonds at the farm, finding an epic stone by dismantling the farmhouse, mud-brick by mud-brick; this ""Southern Cross"" diamond will become the start of a Jack/David fortune--and a source of enmity over the decades. Eventually, then, Jack's London daughter will fall in love with David's consumptive Oxford son (to Jack's horror); David will find late-love with now-famous Lily (to Jack's impotent fury); and the exciting last chapters bring everyone back to South Africa for the Boer War.....