Reviews and Interviews: The Shaping of Water

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Ruth Hartley Interview in Zambia Daily Mail

An exclusive interview by Daniel Sikazwe urges "historians and all citizens of Zambia and Zimbabwe who desire to create a new era of progress and prosperity" to read this book.

Sikazwe points out that The Shaping of Water records part of Zambia's history that is less often told, "the country's unwavering support to the liberation of Southern Africa. It is a record of the suffering of the country and its people at the hand of white supremacists in Zimbabwe and South Africa, as well as international powers that benefited from colonial rule in Zimbabwe, apartheid in South Africa and civil wars wages in Mozambique and Angola on the pretext of fighting comunism".


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

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

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...

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...

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...

I couldn’t put this book down

Great read. What I look for in a novel is to learn something new. For me this story of how Rhodesia emerged into Zimbabwe fulfilled this. The descriptions of the landscapes are impressive as is the narrative of the building of Kariba dam.

I felt that the historical, political unfolding of Apartheid, through the ingenious use of ‘The Cottage’ and its guests, was told with a great depth of understanding. I couldn’t put this book down and did not want it to end.

On Amazon UK, 29 Jan 2014

A thoughtful and honest book

The author's knowledge and love of central Africa, where this novel is set, add depth and life to the story. Through her characters, the upheavals and conflicts of the time are seen from several viewpoints bringing a better understanding of attitudes with which one may not necessarily sympathise.

I found it a thoughtful and honest book, well-written and with a plot which kept my attention to the end.

On Amazon UK, 21 Jan 2016

An excellent novel

... an excellent novel that illuminates the unsettled period ... just before and after Zambia gained independence. Tensions were high as Rhodesia was still being fought over and the war of liberation spilt into southern Zambia and along the shores of the newly formed Lake Kariba. ... grasps attention from the start ... compelling characters draw the reader through the complexities of different races coming to terms with post-colonial society. A “must read” for all those who live there now, or were there in those exciting times.

On Amazon UK, 27 Jan 2014

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