Book review: The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso


The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso (first published in 2016 by Chatto & Windus)
When the neighbourhood committee meets, you can be sure that octogenarians Hortensia James and Marion Agostino will not agree on much. 

As neighbours in a leafy part of Constantia, they thrive on disagreeing. One a former architect, the other a textile designer, their rivalry at first seems based on race, but is revealed as having a connection to Marion’s past career. 

Told against the backdrop of political and social change, the story of these ageing frenemies is engaging, amusing and touching all at the same time. 

Omotoso – herself an architect by profession - takes her characters back in time to when they were young, creative and dynamic, and delicately shows the passage of time and its effect on both women. Both have secrets that threaten to upset the equilibrium of their lives.

As they face the challenges of widowhood and ageing, they begin to find more in common than they ever thought was possible. It’s clear that as neighbours they may need each other in unforeseen ways. 

But can they ever really find a way to be true friends?

Sign up for our monthly book club newsletter and stand a chance to win our top ten books from

Keen on reading this book? Buy your copy now.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Do you think it's important to get married in this day and age?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, it's important in order to create a family unit and for companionship
22% - 705 votes
Not at all. Being single is far more liberating
9% - 288 votes
There is no general answer to this, it's each to their own
50% - 1595 votes
Yes, society still frowns on unmarried people, especially women
1% - 42 votes
It depends on whether you are able to find a compatible partner
18% - 569 votes