Random House, Inc.
A haunting, gloriously imagined novel by the acclaimed author of History of a Pleasure Seeker (“a classic” —The Washington Post), set in early twentieth-century colonial Cape Town, and a forest full of witch doctors, stingless bees, and hungry leopards.
It is 1914. Germany has just declared war on France. Piet Barol was a tutor before he came to South Africa, his wife, Stacey, an opera singer. In Cape Town they are living the high life, impersonating French aristocrats—but their lies are catching up with them.
The Barols’ furniture business is on the verge of collapse. They need top-quality wood, and they need it cheap. Piet enlists two Xhosa [pron. KO-sa] men to lead him into a vast forest, in search of a fabled tree.
The Natives Land Act has just abolished property rights for the majority of black South Africans, and whole families have been ripped apart. Piet’s guides have their own reasons to lead him through the trees, and to keep him alive while he’s useful to them.
Far from the comforting certainties of his privileged existence, Piet finds the prospect of riches beyond measure—and the chance to make great art. He is sure he’ll be able to buy what he needs for a few glass trinkets. But he’s underestimating the Xhosa, who believe the spirits of their ancestors live in this sacred forest.
Battle lines are drawn. When Piet’s powers of persuasion fail him, he resorts to darker, more dangerous talents to get what he is determined to have. As the story moves to its devastating conclusion, every character becomes a suspect, and Piet’s arrogance and guile put him on a collision course with forces he cannot understand and that threaten his seemingly enchanted existence.
Baker & Taylor
A follow-up to History of a Pleasure Seeker finds European adventurer Piet Barol navigating the turbulence and opportunities of South Africa's Cape Colony of 1914 in the face of dwindling funds and a business prospect that would use contraband materials.
European adventurer Piet Barol navigates the turbulence and opportunities of South Africa's Cape Colony of 1914 in the face of dwindling funds and a business prospect that puts him in pursuit of wood from a sacred forest of the Xhosa.
"A haunting, wildly imagined novel by the acclaimed author of History of a Pleasure Seeker ("the best new work of fiction... in many moons; a classic" --The Washington Post); set in the first decades of twentieth-century colonial Cape Town and in a spirit-filled forest of secrets and magic powers. It is 1914. Germany has just declared war on France. Piet Barol, the handsome, irresistible figure of Mason's much-admired, sensuous History of a Pleasure Seeker, is once again at the center of this ambitious,lush new novel. Barol, a European adventurer living as a poseur in South Africa's Cape Colony, navigates the turbulence and opportunities of this strange land in his blind quest for comfort and riches as thousands of black families have been turned out of their homes by a white government bent on confiscating 90% of the country for the exclusive use of Europeans. Piet and his wife have successfully, grandly lived a life for the past five years as colonials impersonating French aristocrats (the dazzlingVicomte and Vicomtesse Pierre de Barol of the Chãateau de Barol on the banks of the Loire River), though in truth, he is Dutch and far from aristocratic and she is American and hardly of the railroad fortune family she so often and casually invokes. Bothare wily, and both have large dreams. After years of supremely decadent living, Fortune, which has always favored Piet, has grown tired of him and the Barols' luck is about to run out. They are short of cash and on the verge of ruin. As one last grand effort they have embarked on a furniture business full of possibility. They need wood for the enterprise, and through Piet's charm and guile have come upon the source for their inventory that will make all of them rich. The wood is in a forbidden forest filled with sacred, untouchable trees of fine mahogany which Piet is sure he will be able to extract in exchange for beads and glass trickets. His pursuit of the bewitched trees of the fabled forest of Gwadana takes him deep into the Xhosa [pron. KO-sa] homelands, where unfailing charm, wit and the friendship of two black men are his only allies as he attempts an act of supreme audacity: to steal a forest from its rightful owners--a Xhosa clan who know to be true that the spirits of their ancestors residein their magical, ageless trees"--