This very readible book offers a the true account of a Zululand family whose lives were touched in equal measure by tribal belief and Christianity, healing herbs, magical birds and the tokeloshe, a mischievous creature surrounded by myth and sexual innuendo. It is a story of betrayal, grand passion, bewitchment, abuse and the triumph of love. A love-story and family saga; and social history.. In the late 19th century, well-to-do British and Irish traders started operating in Ngome in northern KwaZulu-Natal. They took Zulu wives and adopted Zulu cultural practices, including polygamy, which meant that they fathered numerous children with their various wives. Agnes Lottering, the author of this book, is one of their offspring. Her grandfather, the Rorke after whom Rorke's Drift was called, came from Dublin; her grandmother was a princess of the Myeni tribe of Ubumbo.
Agnes gives us an authentic and rare insight into the reality and lives of women who found them in a social environment that was neither Zulu nor British, where women, now without the strict codes that governed Zulu marriages, were basically at the mercy of the men: white men, far removed from their own society with its constraints, and coloured men who had never known a coherent, stable social environment. Both Agnes and her mother were loved with passion, but both were also abused. Caught in the cross-current of two cultures and never completely belonging to either, they both managed not to have their spirit broken. In fact, Agnes is and emerges from her narrative almost larger than life.