The compelling story of a forbidden marriage, a baby lost, and a love triangle gone horribly wrong, Love Child centers on Bill, a South African woman whose life has been defined by the apartheid-era, class-riven society in which she lives. Under pressure to make her will, Bill is forced to think about the momentous events and decisions that have made her an extremely wealthy if somewhat disillusioned woman. To whom should she leave her fortune? As Bill relives her past, we learn that this is a simple question with a complicated answer. In elegant, sensual, and nuanced prose, Kohler skillfully explores the space between our dreams and our reality, between our hopes and our disappointments.
Love Child is a novel about a woman of wealth and class set during the time of apartheid in South Africa. In 1956, Bill is a lonely but fabulously rich widow who is under pressure by her family accountant/attorney to write her will in favour of her two well-educated teenage sons.
Through flashbacks to 1925, Bill examines her past with all its dark secrets and lies. Not even her family knows of her life and her secret shame and story of a lost love she has carried with her for thirty years. When Bill meets Isaac, a man of lower class, at her father’s diamond business, a passionate love blossoms and soon the couple elope. After consummating the marriage, they arrive on the doorstep of Bill’s three spinster aunts who conspire with her father to separate the young lovers. Cloistered in the home of her aunts, Bill is forced to endure their solutions to her unapproved of marriage and its consequences.
Author Sheila Kohler writes a deep and intellectual story of loneliness and loss, atonement and hope. She delves deeply into the social values of a society plagued by racism and class structure. This is a novel where readers must look beyond the written words and seek to understand the story’s deeper meaning. I enjoyed this story about a forbidden marriage, a baby stolen away, and a love triangle torn asunder. It left me feeling a little haunted – a deeply complex book that portrays the fate of many an unwed mother in decades not so long ago.