Book review: The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso

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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?

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