Reviews and Interviews

Marianne Gray reviews The Tin Heart Gold Mine for The South African

The Tin Heart Gold Mine reeks with life in Africa. It is an intriguing novel of skillfully interwoven tales of art, politics, money, love, war and corruption, a vivid tale centred in post-colonial Southern Africa, mainly on one of those small elite expat communities in a far-flung African republic, nominally Chambeshi, Zambia.

The story of Lara, an artist, about art, Africa and what happens when the past unburies itself, The Tin Heart Gold Mine is on the surface a story of an artist in Africa trying to find a personal strategy for fulfilment. On her way, she encounters Tim, an idealistic foreign correspondent, and Oscar an older man with a mysterious past. But deeper than that it is a story of betrayal, hard choices, personal and social violence.
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Photo of book cover of The Tin Heart Gold Mine
Photo of book cover of The Shaping of Water by Ruth Hartley. Title in slightly transparent white capital letters over a background of blue-green water with ripples at he top and a submerged plant at the bottom

The Displaced Nation interviews Ruth Hartley

ML Awanohara of The Displaced Nation interviewed Ruth Hartley about her book The Shaping of Water: “Ruth Hartley is a writer and an artist—but from the point of view of The Displaced Nation, she is something else as well: an expert on displacement.”

“In this novel of displacement, water shapes the land, the country and people’s lives, almost beyond recognition…Ruth has lived a life of displacement. She grew up in Africa, a continent that continues to have the world’s largest number of forcibly displaced peoples. She grew up on her father’s farm in Zimbabwe, which at that point was known as Rhodesia, at a time when struggles for independence in European-ruled African territories were spreading like a wave. As a young woman, she moved to South Africa to study art and then had to escape to England because of her political activities…” Read more

The Thrill and the Poetry of The Tin Heart Gold Mine

I read The Tin Heart Gold Mine in one sitting. It was such a rich and complex story that, once in, I knew the only way out lay at the other end! I then needed to sit with the story for a few days, avoiding reading any other novel, while I mulled over what exactly had affected me.

First of all, I loved the descriptions of the African bush, and of the hard work and constant learning that are necessary to survive and succeed there. They fanned into flame my ever-present longing to be back there, under that wide African sky. Because these descriptions are so detailed, they are relatable, certainly to anyone who has lived in, or even just visited, Africa, and probably too to those who have not yet been there. These descriptions work strongly to ground the story in a convincing reality. Yes, it is set in the fictional country of ‘Chambeshi’, but you can smell the dawn air and feel the sandy soil beneath your feet… you soon replace that name in your own head with a real one that you know!
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Photo of book cover of The Tin Heart Gold Mine
Photo of book cover of The Shaping of Water by Ruth Hartley. Title in slightly transparent white capital letters over a background of blue-green water with ripples at he top and a submerged plant at the bottom

Ruth Hartley Interview in Female First

In an exclusive interview by Lucy Moore of Female First, Lucy says that “Ruth Hartley’s novel, The Shaping of Water is unique.

“It is a story that has never been told but that needs to be heard. It is set in a little known part of the world that is beautiful, fascinating and challenging. The historical events did take place but they are part of a history that is not widely known.

The characters are fictitious but entirely believable. The novel weaves together the characters, the lake, and the historical events with the themes of political damage, environmental damage, damaged relationships and the survival of individuals. It is a very readable book with a compelling plot…” Read more

The Inspiration Behind Ruth Hartley’s New Novel The Tin Heart Gold Mine

Author Ruth Hartley writes a piece for Female First upon the release of her new book The Tin Heart Gold Mine.

There are so many threads woven into The Tin Heart Gold Mine, most from my own life. My novel is set in the very recent past, but one thread began long before I was born. In 1903 an explorer in an unknown and, as yet, uncolonised African country found beautiful green malachite stones on the banks of the Kafue River and made a claim to mine copper ore there. Eighty years later I visited the then-defunct mine. It was close to the Hippo Safari Camp where my husband and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary with friends and champagne. We heard the noise of a small plane overheard. A handsome, rich and charming businessman had flown into the bush camp in an attempt to gatecrash our party.

I knew at once that I had the key to my story. The character Oscar — owner of the mine — now transformed in my head to a gold mine — walked into my imagination and smiled his lopsided grin. … Read More

Photo of book cover of The Tin Heart Gold Mine
Photo of book cover of The Shaping of Water by Ruth Hartley. Title in slightly transparent white capital letters over a background of blue-green water with ripples at he top and a submerged plant at the bottom

Five Stars for The Shaping of Water

The book’s title, The Shaping of Water, refers to the building of the Kariba Dam across the Zambezi River and creation of Lake Kariba between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The story embraces a period of great change with the end of colonialisation in Africa, political upheavals, emergence of terrorism, independence wars etc. in both Zambia and Zimbabwe together with reference to UDI in Rhodesia, South African Apartheid and other terrorist and liberation issues in neighbouring countries.

Author Ruth Hartley has lived in the area throughout the period and she uses her first-hand knowledge and experience to build an authentic background to which she skilfully introduces a range of characters to present a compelling multi-layered historical commentary on the turbulent times interwoven with the personal lives of individuals affected.   Read More…

The Tin Heart Gold Mine is Exciting and Thoughtful — Five Stars

This is a splendid book set both in a turbulent African country on the verge of a coup and in London’s art-world of the 80s and 90s, as we follow Lara’s tumultuous life from her student years through to the beginnings of maturity as a wife and mother. It is all at once a thriller, a love story and a reflection.

We accompany Lara through a loss of innocence; the vehicles for this are Art, Sex and Africa — I give each of these words a capital letter to bring to them the weight that they carry throughout the book, each is a feature of her deepest way of being. Though there is masses of action and excitement and one gets really hooked in, there is also space given to thought and introspection as Lara tries to work out how she really feels about life as it whirls her round on its carousel. Highly recommended!

First posted by Mrs Rivers on Amazon 8 Feb 2017
Photo of book cover of The Tin Heart Gold Mine
Photo of book cover of The Shaping of Water by Ruth Hartley. Title in slightly transparent white capital letters over a background of blue-green water with ripples at he top and a submerged plant at the bottom

A Top 500 Reviewer enjoys The Shaping of Water

The Shaping of Water is a novel set in Africa, written by someone who knows the continent well, with all its troubles and evocative beauty. It spans a period of some fifty years, years which saw the shape of Africa change and change again and the lives of the various people who lived and worked there change also.

The “Water” of the title is the damming of the Zambezi River to create hydro-electric power for ,what was then Northern and Southern Rhodesia. It looks at the terrible effects the damming had on the lives of the native people who lived there. They were largely forcibly relocated to an area which made it much harder for them to live in the way their people always had. They did not benefit from the electricity generated either.

The novel deals with the effects of the ending of colonial rule, the rise of apartheid and the eventual declaration of Zimbabwe through the eyes of an Irish missionary, several white and some mixed race couples, and Natombi and her son, Milimo.   Read More…

Photo of book cover of The Shaping of Water by Ruth Hartley. Title in slightly transparent white capital letters over a background of blue-green water with ripples at he top and a submerged plant at the bottom

Highly recommended…The Shaping of Water is eminently readable

First and foremost this is an eminently readable book. I was totally absorbed by The Shaping of Water and got caught up in the lives of all the various protagonists right from page one. Each, very different, personality is drawn with a deep feeling for human nature with all its weaknesses and strengths; the characters rendered so finely that I felt I knew and cared about them all, despite — or perhaps because of — their quirks and failings.

Respect and compassion are themes that run through the whole work, not only for humanity, be it black, white or somewhere in between, but also for the natural world and this earth upon which we all live together. Ruth Hartley evokes most beautifully the spirit of time and place and her story has universal appeal, but I think   Read More…

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3 Comments on “Reviews”

  1. John Corley

    The Tin Heart Gold Mine is on the surface a story of an artist in Africa trying to find a personal strategy for fulfilment. On her way she encounters Tim, an idealistic foreign correspondent, and Oscar an older man with a mysterious past. But deeper than that it is a story of betrayal, hard choices, personal and social violence and at the end of the book you are left with doubt – Will Tim come back?, Can Oscar really be dead? and who is the father of Lara’s child? A fascinating read!

  2. Charles Getliffe

    Once started The Tin Heart Gold Mine is a book you won’t want to put down. It should come with a warning that any potential reader must be prepared to set aside a day or two to read it without any distractions. This book is wonderfully paced and well plotted. It has it all, a real page-turner.

    1. Ruth Hartley

      Charles – thank you for taking the time and trouble to post this review – it means a great deal to me . All writers need this support. Ruth

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