Thought-provoking true stories


These books give us an inside look at interesting – and often inspiring – lives.

Rock ‘n roll. Solid body electric guitar. Multi Grammy award-winning musician. Layla. Guessed who yet? Eric Clapton, of course! Philip Norman has turned his biographical attention to the iconic musical perfectionist in Slowhand – The Life and Music of Eric Clapton. A war time baby, Clapton was brought up by his grandmother and though he was greatly loved by his grandparents, Eric’s early life was far from luxurious. However, once rich and famous, he never forgot his roots, or his earliest friends. His adult life became a roller-coaster of drugs, alcohol, expensive cars and clothes and turbulent love affairs. He belonged to – and parted from – many bands before going solo in the 70s. Through all the ups and downs his musical genius shone through and today he is acknowledge as rock’s greatest virtuoso. Fans will thoroughly enjoy this comprehensive biography. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, R342.


Kate Nicholls decided her five children needed to explore the world outside their home in England, so she took them to live in Botswana, an experience that would change all their lives. Under the Camelthorn Tree – Raising a Family Among Lions, is the story of their time in the bush. They lived in a lion conservation camp where Kate home-schooled her children and the family studied a pride of lions. Life was good until Kate was brutally attacked by three men, which almost broke her and turned a good mother into one who was out of control. This powerful memoir shows how familial structures shift as the children mature and roles change. Above all, it’s an inspiring account of family love and a beacon of hope for life after trauma. Jonathan Ball, R379.


The best things parents can give their children are solid roots, followed by wings. Soweto-born Nthabi Taukobong was one of the lucky ones, as she describes in the earlier chapters of The Real Interior, the story of her success in the tough field of interior design. Her loving parents taught her to strive for excellence in everything she did and, with township schools going up in flames during the late ‘70s, her father, with incredible determination and persistence, managed to get Nthabi and her older brother into an Anglican school for whites. She spread her wings during a year in Canada as a Rotary exchange student and finally, after studying at what is now the Durban University of Technology, landed her dream job with a top Johannesburg interior design firm. Within a week she jetted off to Mauritius to take the first professional steps in her chosen career. Now, 23 years on, she has designed for presidents, African royalty, captains of industry, five-star hotels … forging success in the challenging world of interior design. Her journey continues, with all its highs and lows – and her story so far is an inspiration and encouragement to others. TMP, R275.


In 1960, when the apartheid government declared a State of Emergency, activists Rusty and Hilda Bernstein were arrested, along with many others, and held without trial for three months. Their 16-year-old daughter, Toni, was left to take care of her three younger siblings. Holding the Fort – A Family Torn Apart, is Tony Strasburg’s story of this traumatic time. In prison, her mother kept a diary filled with letters to her children, drawings, poems, plays and menus to keep her fellow detainees entertained. Years later, Toni pieced together her mother’s diary, snippets from her father’s writing and her own recollections to produce this heart-wrenching memoir of what happened to her family because of an unjust law. Kwela, R290.


Celebrated author Elsa Joubert, now in her 90s, has written the third of her memoirs in Cul-de-Sac which tells of her life after the death of her beloved husband. Moving into an upmarket retirement home in Cape Town she’s faced with coming to terms with loss of independence, the death of friends and changes in her memory and body. Filled with stories of her childhood, it’s also an honest and brave view of the humiliations of old age, told with an unfailing touch of humour. The author of the multi award-winning The Long Journey of Poppie Nongena has not lost her touch. Tafelberg, R310.