Die reise van Isobelle | General Fiction
Hertzog Prize for Prose (1998)
WA Hofmeyr Prize (1996)
Set between 1894 and 1994 and spanning four generations, this engaging and beautifully told saga focuses on the lives of the women of the family, whose literal and metaphorical journeys between the start of the Anglo-Boer War and the birth of democracy in South Africa provide the fabric of the narrative. It explores especially the tensions created by the conflict between loyalty to family and loyalty to one’s own beliefs. The reactions of each family member to both personal experience and the unfolding of cataclysmic historical developments both in South Africa and on the international front retain the ring of psychological truth.
Elsa Joubert probes with profound insight and acute observation the influences, cultural and historical, that drove otherwise decent, essentially well-meaning South Africans to the evil of apartheid. She confronts with rare courage and frankness the undeclared civil wars that white South Africans waged among themselves for almost a hundred years, and counts the cost in the disappointments and wasted lives that the conflict produced. Die reise van Isobelle reveals the essential tragedy of what took place in South Africa; it exposes inescapably the guilt and innocence of the Afrikaner nation.