Lively book visits Victorian England and South Africa

2007-12-12 00:00

TOM Bedlam was born an urchin in Victorian England. His mother was a worker in a grim factory in southwest London and it seems that he is destined to follow in her footsteps, especially after his wastrel of a thespian father William turns up and steals the money she has been putting aside for Tom’s education.

Her death is the saving of Tom. His grandfather, who had disowned Tom’s mother on account of her marriage to William, reappears and sends the boy off to boarding school. It is not a particularly happy experience, Victorian schools being what they were, and the death of his friend at the hands of a school bully results in Tom being sent off to finish his schooling in Scotland. There he becomes a doctor, as he had long dreamed of doing. However, in order to do so he makes a Faustian pact that will haunt him for the rest of his life.

Determined to create the family he longed for in his childhood, Tom and his bride Lizzy set off for South Africa, where he is to work in a hospital in Port Elizabeth. The Boer War intrudes on the idyll with an ugliness and brutality that Tom finds hard to accept. When it is over he and Lizzy move to Johannesburg with their four children where he establishes himself in private practice.

When the patriotic fervour that accompanies the outbreak of World War 1 threatens to destroy his family, Tom is forced to return to the UK and to confront his demons in an attempt to stop his underage son from being sent to the trenches in France.

This novel clips along at a brisk pace as it spans the best part of 60 years. It is moving, entertaining and whimsical, and shot through with lively humour — a great read for the holidays.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.