In the Garden of the Fugitives
Rating: 4 / 5
After a gap of 20 years, Vita is contacted by Royce, her wealthy American benefactor. Royce is troubled by his past, and in the face of illness and old age, turns to Vita for absolution. But Vita, once one of Royce’s most brilliant protégés, has demons of her own. Living in Mudgee, she is an aeon away from her native South Africa and her years studying anthropology and filmmaking in Boston. Her career has come to nothing.
And so begins their correspondence, a series of back-and-forth emails that meditate on the forces that shaped their lives. Traversing topics such as the excavation of the ancient city of Pompeii, lost loves and Vita’s inherited guilt from a childhood spent in apartheid-ridden South Africa, the narrative is compelling.
A challenging read, but recommended for those interested in the way circumstances and desires affect our own and others’ lives.