Book Review -Tandia by Bryce Courtenay

Tandia – Bryce Courtenay

I have enjoyed all the books I have read by this author. This was no exception. It is the sequel to the more well known The Power of One, which was also made into a movie. It’s is set in South Africa during the apartheid regime, and follows the story of Peekay as he pursues his boxing dream, but focuses on the story of Tandia.

Tandia is a young woman and a promising student who after being brutalised by the police, finds herself working as a prostitute. She is filed with hate for the white policeman who to her represents the brutality of apartheid. The book follows her journey to becoming a lawyer involved in the fight against apartheid.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was the way it included in this fictional story, significant historical events such as the Sharpeville masacre. This helped me to understand better and appreciate the history of the struggle against apartheid, especially as the story also touches on the beginnings of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed militant group of the ANC. It was labeled a terrorist group and banned by the apartheid government.

Tandia was a typical Bryce Courtenay tale. Graphic descriptions of the brutality but a fast moving story that kept me reading. Somewhere near the end, it did become a little fantastical and hence slightly less believable, but I’m so glad I read this book which lead me to read more about these times in South Africa’s history.


9 thoughts on “Book Review -Tandia by Bryce Courtenay

  1. LOVE this book. Although it certainly helps to read Power of One first.

    Courtney’s other super-powerful book is ‘April Fools Day’ – it’s his tribute to his son who died from AIDS related illnesses … his son was a haemophiliac who was infected by HIV through a blood trasfusion. Defintely worth reading, but be sure to have a box of tissues handy.

  2. Thanks for the visit.. I have also read April Fool’s Day, although my favourite by this author would have to be The Australian Trilogy. (The Potato Factory, Tommo and Hawk, and Solomon’s Song)

  3. Just a clarification on the summary above – Tandia is not a prostitute – she is working in the brothel and the madam puts her through school while she tends bar at night.

    Anyone that is a fan of Mr Courtney’s ability to bring love and life to characters while giving you a real taste of the culture of a country should read Four Fires – by far his best work in my opinion…. I fell in love with the Maloney family and it still gives me a real sense of my own families country Australian roots… Absolutely not one to be missed!

  4. Thanks Melliejay! You’re absolutely right now that I think about it….bad me!

    I have also read Four Fires and really enjoyed it….I still think about those characters when I turn the tap on with the spoon in the sink and it splashes all over me!

  5. Currently reading Tandia… I did South African history in high school, and this book brings out issues concerning apartheid in a way that the theoretcal facts never could! Will try and read The power of one as well.

    • Thanks for your comment. That’s the power of a good story isn’t it. We can identify with the characters and that helps us understand.
      The Power of One is also a good ripping yarn, but a much better book on the subject is Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. I’ve reviewed it here: here

  6. Hi,

    It’s an amazing book and it ends in a bittersweet way. I think Bryce Courtenay has the gift of telling epic histories. I’ve read your review of Jessica too but I believe Jessica is the most powerful history Bryce ever told.



  7. Hi,

    Have read Power of One and Tandia just recently. Whilst I do enjoy Bryce Courtenays writings I feel that the characters of both Peekay and Tandia are both too perfect and unrealistic characters. Peekay and Tandia always seem to have events happen to them that are always the fault of someone else; they are always entirely blameless and have absolutely no faults or apparent flaws. For example, both Tandia and Peekay are both beautiful and handsome, they are both academic geniuses. Peekay is also a champion athlete who wins the boxing title and always beats every opponent whilst studying for a law degree, Tandia’s entry into Law school is completely unbelievable- by Madame talking to a college profession and then whoosh! Tandia is in law school. I find this all very hard to believe especially in the 1950’s. This would never have happened.

    Peekays escape from the Black Mamba – unbelievable.

    Plus the bit at the end about Geldunhuis and his demise (with Dee and Dum) with Dum leaping onto Geldenhuis etc. Pretty unbelievable too.

    Your thoughts…

    • Oh I completely agree. Courtenay’s stories all seem to be rather fantastical. In fact they sometimes start off gripping and real and then become more unlikely as the story goes on. I’ve been put off actually. I’ve also read his novels Jessica, Four Fires, and The Australian Trilogy. And now I’m done. Thanks for your comment.

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