Ana Luis, named after her mother who died giving birth to her, returns from a decade in London to her childhood home in Noordhoek after the death of her father, a repairer of musical instruments. All her life, Ana has carried the guilt of being the cause of her mother’s death. Her father having lost the love of his life, was never able to love anyone else besides the ghost of his wife and their daughter, who is blessed with musical talent from both her parents.
Ana is estranged from her ambitious husband, an ex-surfer now embroiled in the cause of bringing internet communication to Africa. Her self confidence has been eroded by his didactic manner towards her, her inablity to break into the London music scene and by the fact that her husband is not often at home.
On her return to Noordhoek, she is befriended individually by her neighbours, the van der Veer brothers, long estranged from each other through bitterness and sibling rivalry. With the help of her father’s old friend,Shanti, a free spirit living in Scarborough, Ana learns to live “her truth”.
Quarter Tones is a most engaging and lyrical novel, dealing with issues of belonging, duty, emigration, the reality of living in South Africa, love and relationships, and is especially so when one is able to identify with the setting and with the characters involved in the story. I look forward to reading Susan Mann’s One Tongue Singing.