Under GlassClaire RobertsonUmuzi Claire Robertson’s latest, astounding novel revolves around a central deceit — but to betray it would obliterate the joy of potential readers. So we need to tread carefully though the luscious plants, around the Victorian dresses with their asphyxiating corsets and limiting bustles, and the vast Natal sugar-cane plantation on which the English settler heroine, Mrs Chetwyn, is living her daunting and complicated life. There is something peculiar about her fifth child, young Cosmo, that must be kept secret. "There are questions for Mrs Chetwyn to answer: perhaps there ought to be charges," Robertson writes. "Instead, she rehearses for her son the story of his settler family, for when he is old enough to be schooled in the sympathetic fictions." The story starts with the arrival of Mrs Chetwyn by ship from India, where she married her British captain husband, with her little daughter, Sophronia, and the ayah Griffin. They are carried through the surf to...

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