What is this about?: Bontle is a survivor — she’s survived her past, her mother and she survives by being blessed — by ensuring the various men she’s juggling are always happy and ready to part with their money to keep her in the lifestyle she’s become accustomed to. However, life isn’t an instagram, no matter how good she is at it.
What else is this about?: The Blessed Girl is social commentary on what life is like for young black women in South Africa, who have these relationships, using them to keep up appearance. Whatever you may think of Bontle, she is much more than what she appears to be.
‘The most exciting new heroine I’ve read in a very long time’ KATIE FFORDE
THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2018 SOUTH AFRICAN SUNDAY TIMES LITERARY AWARDS
Young, beautiful and ambitious, Bontle Tau has Johannesburg wrapped around her finger. Her generous admirers are falling over themselves to pay for her Mercedes, her penthouse, and her Instagrammable holidays. It’s her duty to look fabulous – after all, people didn’t sacrifice their lives in the freedom struggle for black women to wear the same cheap T-shirts they wore during apartheid.
Bontle’s come a long way, and it hasn’t been easy. Her shrink keeps wanted to talk about a past she’s put firmly behind her. And what she doesn’t think about can’t hurt her, can it?
Blessed adj. [pronounced bles-id]
The state of being blessed, often referring to a person, usually female, who lives a luxurious lifestyle funded by an older, often married partner, in return for sexual favours.
When I started reading The Blessed Girl, I didn’t realise that it was reflective of what young women are going through in South Africa. Makholwa is an accomplished crime writer — yes, those books of hers are 100% on my TBR now — but writes the satirical story of Bontle with humour and insight, presenting a character that is so much more than you would first think.
Bontle is The Blessed Girl
Bontle lives in a penthouse she doesn’t own, or pay rent for. She has a thriving business selling wigs to the various salons around Johannesburg, and her PhD in MENcology as she puts it stands her in good stead when it comes to convince her boyfriends to expand her business by getting involved in construction, and paying her rent and getting her expensive cars and holidays.
Bontle knows exactly who she is, and doesn’t shy away from that — she knows what she has to do keep the men in her life happy to get what she wants, and she does it. She manipulates her friends and the other women around her to get the man she wants.
And I have to admit, that ruthlessness, wrapped around the humour and designer clothes, made me kind of admire her: she is who she is, and if you don’t like it, that’s not on her. This is how she survives in the world she’s in.
She talks to readers as if we’re her best friends, though she’d happily screw her best friend over for the right man. We’re privy to her as she navigates her men, and the issues that arise with their wives — namely, keeping them away from her.
Don’t doubt that she is intelligent — it just happens to be hidden behind the image conscious, designer obsessed, instagram loving nature.
We’re also introduced to her mother, a shebeen (unlicensed selling of alcohol) queen, and her brother Loki, who is at that age when falling into the wrong crowd and drugs is far too easy. Slowly, readers being to understand a little of why Bontle is the way she is, and why she lives this lifestyle — and why there’s a distance between her, her mother and her brother.
Bontle’s story is a story about living her #blessed life, before everything unravels in spectacular fashion. It’s the woman who comes out at the other end that is as fascinating as the woman who started the book.
I know this is satire, but I enjoyed Bontle as a character. The social commentary on life in South Africa now, came wrapped in a woman that was confident and caring, even though she doesn’t let that part of herself out too often. She is funny and ruthless, and intelligent in a different way entirely to what she would get out of school.