Agaat


On the farm Grootmoedersdrift, tragic and unexpected events are triggered by a number of fateful shifts of power and dependence in the intimate relationships between four family members. Milla Redelinghuys, the idealistic heiress of the family farm, suffers cruel disillusionment in her marriage to MooiJak de Wet. Agaat Lourier, adopted by Milla, and raised with a relentless and loving hand, is later reduced to the role of housekeeper and nanny after the birth of Milla’s biological son, Jakkie.

Want to find out more about Marlene van Niekerk? Click here.

Description

On the farm Grootmoedersdrift, tragic and unexpected events are triggered by a number of fateful shifts of power and dependence in the intimate relationships between four family members. Milla Redelinghuys, the idealistic heiress of the family farm, suffers cruel disillusionment in her marriage to MooiJak de Wet.  Agaat Lourier, adopted by Milla, and raised with a relentless and loving hand, is later reduced to the role of housekeeper and nanny after the birth of Milla’s biological son, Jakkie. But when Milla falls prey to motor neuron disease, the tables are turned once again. Agaat not only takes over Milla’s role, she becomes the tyrannical ruler of both the farm and its people. Jak de Wet slowly realises, with horror, what he has become over the years – a victim of the ruthless manipulations of both women. Jakkie, the pawn in the game, does the only thing he can and leaves Grootmoedersdrift, under a cloud of suspicion, to take refuge in Canada as a student of ethnomusicology.
This story is told from Milla’s perspective during the last few months of her life.  Bedridden, completely paralysed and unable to speak, she is meticulously nursed by a deeply anguished, yet vengeful, Agaat, who is now a middle-aged woman. Trying to make sense of her own complex memories of what happened between her and her intimate others, Milla struggles to find new ways of relating to Agaat, to Grootmoedersdrift, and ultimately to herself.
In Agaat Van Niekerk reinvents the farm novel genre. She presents a stark and distressing view of the Afrikaans landscape of the second half of the twentieth century: a landscape of damaged humanity but also one of enduring hope.