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Trapido, Barbara

life romantic characters africa

(British, 1941– )

Trapido was born in South Africa and has lived in England since 1963. In her first novel, Brother of the More Famous Jack (1982), Katherine finds herself living in the bohemian family home of Jacob Goldman, her philosophy professor, and in love with his son. The affair ends badly and she flees to Rome, returning ten years later to discover that her life is still inextricably bound up with the Goldmans. Trapido writes witty romantic comedies, yet explores the tragedies of ordinary human lives with some tenderness. Many of the characters in earlier novels turn up in later ones, suggesting that life continues beyond romantic resolutions. The Travelling Hornplayer (1997) is an unravelling of the mysterious circumstances under which a young woman is killed running across a road, and tells of her sister's struggle to make sense of her loss. Trapido inspires affection for her characters, and her plots have the quality of a playful dance.

Frankie and Stankie (2003) draws on Trapido's own life to tell the story of two sisters growing up in 1950s' South Africa, in a dissenting liberal family; the novel reveals the bizarre nature of that racially stratified society.

Amanda Craig, Jane Gardam, Jane Austen  DJ/JR

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