A novel about choice; the random decisions that determine the path that life will follow.
A story centred around three women who are likened in some way to the characteristics of various insects and are linked by their discordant proportions.
Ann is too tall, a lanky mosquito of a girl, Sophie is too fat, a bee of royal proportions and Jacqueline is too small, the sensual firefly of the team.
The story moves through time and chronicles the evolution of the women’s careers, relationships and lifestyles.
Told with compassion and humour, even with insects is a good choice for book clubs.
Seldom have I come across a book that weaves the immediate magic of this one. Beneath the surface humour are currents and depths that touch the angst or half-hidden fears of many South Africans. The tone, extremely funny in places, foreshadows later events that are tragic. The author seems to suggest that life is a gift, precious, complex, often sad, and always unpredictable.
An extraordinary feature of this book is a compelling honesty that has an almost visceral effect. It touches on issues like affirmative action and the unfair retrenchment of talented individuals, on crime, on family relationships, on AIDS and emigration, in fact on all the components that make up the new South Africa. In addition there are fascinating snippets of new age philosophy, alternative medicine, and anthropological research. Underlying the facetious tone is a compelling honesty, a willingness to face emotions, especially guilt and grief. So powerfully do these aspects come across that one feels they spring directly from the author’s heart and are not simply an artificial construct. Ann’s feelings about betraying her husband and grief for the death of her son, understated as they are, create a new synthesis of reality. It is not in Coleridge’s phrase, “the willing suspension of disbelief” but rather a sudden impact of poetic truth. “even with insects” is truly a remarkable book.
Dr. Michael Hurry, Sunday Independent
Even with Insects by Barbara Erasmus was a joyous read. This is a wonderful story with a powerful and delicious message about life. It has a ‘Sex and the City’ feel about it, with the main relationships centering on best girlfriends, and the love and support they provide for each other. There is also a tender undertone to the story that explores change, desire and regret. Any woman who has grown up in the suburbs of Cape Town, in both the old and new South Africa, will recognise aspects of it. It was heartwarming to read a book set in a Town I know so well, and I felt an instant affection and identification with the characters. The book is also apolitical but socially aware, about characters and relationships, not just about the country. If you’ve ever walked through Cape Town on a warm summer’s day, had a mother-in-law who reminded you of a Doberman, or drunk red wine into the night with your best friends, you will like this book. It had me roaring with laughter every few pages.
Nandi Roos, Cape Times
A wicked sense of humour ensures that Barbara Erasmus pulls off her new book with flair. It follows the lives of three friends whose lives are complicated by random decisions that determine their life paths. The major issues are very relevant to society today such as suicide, losing a child, AIDS, infertility, infidelity and social standing. Mostly depressing topics, yes, but Erasmus carries them off with panache.
Alison Marshall, Citizen