I read this book after being hooked by "Panjola", a much better book by the same author, and similar in that it features a British heroine in early colonial South Africa.
I liked the first part of the book very much. Deirdre Saurin, impressed by a South African man she met at a ball, has lost her inheritance through no fault of her own and decides to strike out for a life of adventure in South Africa, where she'll join her brother and his wife. Immediately, she is stranded in the desert in the middle of the night in a wagon with hyenas and lions (and possibly murderous natives) prowling around under the full moon. Who shows up to rescue her? That's right ! The man! My kind of book, up to this point at least.
Safely escorted to the colonial town, she is dropped off and finds out everyone is required to live barricaded in close quarters in the center of the town while the men go off and fight the natives, who really have gotten murderous. This part of the book is well-written, but terrible. Deirdre is essentially trapped in close quarters with petty, catty, bored, spiteful women - and they all, even the married ones, have a crush on her man, who they claim is also married.
Deirdre is a nice person, so you really want the rumor to be false and for this to work out for her. This would have been a great book if the author had created an honorable, happy ending here.
Instead, the man does not return from the war with the natives, and is reported killed. Lonely and sad, she gives into pressure from another man to marry him instead. The rest of the book is torture. The man is a weak, dishonest, abusive monster. You have to hope Mrs. Stockley didn't have a marriage like this, but it's described so horribly that it's hard not to suspect first-hand knowledge. The man beats her kitten to death. After this, I wanted to stop reading the book. Hoping it somehow ends happily, I flipped ahead a long, long way.
There is a happy ending but boy, you have to suffer a lot with Deirdre to get there, and the way circumstances sort out wasn't very believable to me.
This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.