Michiel Heyns

A Poor Season for Whales

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‘A Poor Season for Whales is pitch-perfect, a clever, bitingly funny novel. It had me riveted.’ — Finuala Dowling, author of Okay, Okay, Okay
Margaret Crowley, handsome, clever and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly fifty-six years in the world with very little to distress or vex her. It was therefore hardly to be foreseen that in her fifty-sixth year she would kill a man with a kitchen knife.
When, after twenty-six years of marriage, Margaret Crowley’s husband leaves her for a younger man, she has to rethink her priorities and consider her options: as a free agent, with no ‘appurtenances’, how best to turn that freedom into a meaningful future rather than a mulling over the past? Opting to leave behind her support system of family and friends, she moves to a seaside town with her dog, Benjy, intent upon a simple, uncluttered existence. But simplicity, it seems, can be a complicated affair. When the charismatic young Jimmy Prinsloo-Mazibuko enters her life and her home, apparently intent upon establishing himself as a general-purpose handyman and cook, she finds herself torn between distrust and attraction. Is he merely the helpful, cheerful young man he seems, or is there a darker purpose to his assistance?
As in his award-winning Lost Ground, Heyns situates his novel in contemporary South Africa, with a lively cast of characters: Margaret’s forthright best friend, Frieda, her loose-limbed son, Carl, her exasperated daughter, Celia, and, most insistently of all, her opinionated ‘domestic’, Rebecca. Friends and family, it seems, are not to be left behind at will. And new acquaintances may not be what they seem.
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353 printed pages
Original publication
2020

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