Under Table Mountain

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
166 Pages
Reviewed on 11/20/2011
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Author Biography

Of dual British and Swiss nationalities, Nigel Patten was born in 1940. After attending Drama School in London, he moved to Switzerland, where he has lived since 1965 in a ski resort in the mountains above Lake Geneva. Apart from writing - five novels - he teaches English in an alpine lycée preparing the French Baccalauréat. An enthusiastic cross country skier and hiker, he travels widely on all continents, but often spends the summer months in Greece, where he kept a yacht for 20 years, sailing among the islands. He has never lost contact with the theatre. He acts and directs in an English-speaking theatre group in Vevey.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Karen Pirnot for Readers' Favorite

"Under Table Mountain" by Nigel Patten is a lovely historical account of the close of the nineteenth century in South Africa. As the story opens, Colonial Britain has ongoing conflict with the two Boar republics. Through the tension and turmoil of the Johannesburg and Capetown settings we meet the Juta family. Juta is a barrister and also the Speaker of the Cape House. As such, he entertains numerous celebrities and social figures in his home and, as a result, his youngest daughter Louise begins to formulate her own way of viewing traditional British royalty and privilege.

When grown, Louise leaves South Africa to be educated in England. It is as an adult in her final years of life that she meets the author Nigel Patten. For countless days, Patten and Louise meet to play Scrabble and during their conversations, the author is able to piece together valuable parts of history and the events leading up to a dramatic change of government in South Africa.

The book is highly scholarly and very well researched. The character development is such that readers will find themselves identifying with various factions of the political arena. The reader who sticks with this slightly pedantic novel will be delighted with their own historical education as well as the development of believable characters who firmly adhere to their convictions. Each character's motivation to carry through with his own values and moral judgments is clearly defined through historical decisions and personal turmoil. All in all,this is a wonderful study of colonial tradition versus the demands of the current society.