Kitchen Casualties by Willemien de Villiers is a beautifully written story, set in two regions of the Western Cape (False Bay and McGregor). While parts of the past are remembered and re-told by all 4 main characters (4 generations of women in one family) - the tale itself takes place in one day. The family are preparing for a farewell dinner for Morgan, the youngest of the four women, who is about to leave for Scotland.
Each of the older 3 women carry parts of a dark family secret within them - the victim, the denier and the silent witness. As the day progresses with the characters busy - taking a solo walk on a beach, shopping, baking and trawling through the debris of a life almost over - the reader slowly unravels the story, often not sure what is real and what is imagined. Ultimately, the secret is exposed and a sort of resolution occurs.
What makes this book memorable is the style of de Villier's meticulously crafted prose - it is organic; a blend of weaving and cooking, building and collecting, weeding and discovering. Themes used in the telling of the story include botany, entimology, dry walling, translation, poetry, photography and of course food.
I enjoyed the setting (Red Hill, Muizenberg etc are all near my own home), the use of the kitchen and food as a central theme, the very different characters and how the reader can view life through all four pairs of eyes. But the beauty of the words and sentences is what made this book special for me.
I'll be adding de Villiers' latest book, The Virgin in the Treehouse, to my 'to read' list.