My Whit’s End Book Club–Cry The Beloved Country–Book Review

Cry the Beloved Country: by Alan Paton

My kids are young.  My kids are young, and sometimes my heart almost bursts with love for them.  My kids are young.  My kids are young, and sometimes I am so in awe that I almost feel as if I can’t breathe for the love and hope I have for them.  My kids are young.  At times they pout or stomp or kick, but all is forgiven because my kids are young.

Yet how will my heart beat if they take my heart, the values taught them, and throw them into the dusty ground as they drive away towards The City of Destruction?  If my lungs can hardly breathe with love and hope, how will my chest be able to lift the heavy load of despair if they waste their breath on cursing and mocking.  If love hurts, how much does grief hurt?  If hope makes breathing hard, how much more despair?

What are heavy? sea-sand and sorrow: What are brief? today and tomorrow: What are frail? spring blossoms and youth: What are deep? the ocean and truth. by Christina Rossetti

I just finished the 1949 classic Cry the Beloved Country.  It is about a father of a son called Absalom.  It is about a nation called South Africa.  It is about a man of faith who bows down with grief and rises again with faith.  It is a novel whose “happy ending” is waiting with patience and hope and hard work.  It is about the land.  It is about the city.  It is about black.  It is about white.  It is about good.  It is about evil.  It is about heaviness and sorrow.  About brevity and tomorrow.  About frailty and youth.  The deep aches of truth.

And it is also about spring blossoms and youth.

Cry, The Beloved County

Here is an excerpt from a book review:

As heartachingly beautiful as the continent of Africa itself, Alan Paton’s poetic prose evokes the majestic cadence of the King James Bible. Such a serious style, after all, is befitting of an examination of such weighty issues and strong emotions.

I would love to hear if you read this book.  I love discussing books I have read and enjoyed.


P.S.  I would recommend listening to this book on audio as there are many Zulu words that add to the rhythm of the Cry.  Here is the first chapter (only 3 minutes).  Enjoy.

To learn more about the author, Alan Paton click on the link.

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5 Responses to My Whit’s End Book Club–Cry The Beloved Country–Book Review

  1. wowmomwow says:

    Yes, I have read this book. The father experiences the waywardness of his son, not only in departing from the principles that he himself holds dear, but sees his son destroy innocent and good people while on his destructive path. The pathos of this Father as he searches for his son and finds only the destruction rendered at his son’s hands. I admire the fact that he doesn’t excuse or make light of his son’s actions. He is caught between the sorrow that he feels for the people that his son has harmed, and the unconditional love he feels for his son. It seems to me that people today think that “unconditional love” must include a glib passing over of sin. This father demonstrates how love can claim its own, in spite of sin and sorrow.


  2. Christie says:

    I just finished listening to this yesterday based on your recommendation, for which I am most grateful. I loved it for many reasons, first of all I think for the way it transported me to another place and another time and evoked deep emotions in me. The prose was beautiful, I thought. I didn’t want to miss a single word. I felt the characters were so well drawn, particularly the father, and it was a nice follow up to Out of Africa which I finished not too long ago. I am anxious now to begin another audio book, something I had given up on when I had so many small children underfoot and was constantly interrupted.


  3. Christie says:

    I loved this book, and I am so glad that you recommended it. When I was faced with mountains of laundry after our trip and was tempted to complain, I loaded it onto my iPod instead and spent the next ten days transported to another time and place, and into the soul of another person. The characters were superbly drawn, the prose beautiful, and I was sorry when I finished the last chapter yesterday. Please continue to pass along any book recommendations! Christie


    • whitsendmom says:

      Just read your post about laundry and a “book on tape”. I will have to try that! (of course, no books are on tape these days, but that is still how I think of them in my head.)


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