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I write and paint because I am a storyteller. I have always made stories, though at times I’ve been lost for direction, identity and method. I paint to explore and share ideas and feelings.
I have lived and worked in several countries. In my art and my writing, I draw on my own stories and those of the fascinating and extraordinary people I’ve met.
Through my four remarkable children and my grandson, I am connected to other generations and enriched by different cultures and ways of being. My stories explore connections, conflict, creativity and communication.
I lived most of my life in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Zambia. The land of Africa, its politics and its people, have changed and enriched my life. I learned to take nothing for granted and to ask many questions.
An interesting and thought-provoking memoir based on Ruth Hartley’s escape to London, and the ordeal she went through to get here in the early 1960’s while pregnant with her first born. I’m not one to get emotional over books but this is one of those rare occasions where I went through a whole roller-coaster of emotions, ranging from Sadness to happiness to even angry about some of the attitudes that people had in the early 60’s. I know some of these prejudices and stigmas still exist to this day but these day’s people and even communities are learning to accept it a little better. This was a very well written memoir, which I found easy to read. I managed to race through this book quite quickly. In fact I finished it in 2 sittings. This was due to the fact that I just wanted to keep reading to find out what happens next. Overall a very enjoyable read. I haven’t read Ruth’s other books but I will definitely be adding them to my TBR list. I highly recommend this book, especially if enjoy reading memoirs and your looking for a memorable read. Manisha Natha, A LoveReading Ambassador
Heart of Darkness and Lust for Life collide as the Cold War in Africa gets hot. Lara, the artist, loves both Oscar, a suave, older entrepreneur, and owner of the Tin Heart Gold Mine and Tim, a journalist seeking truth. This is a dramatic story, about vibrant, intriguing characters passionate about art, love, the making of money and the African bush, whose lives become entangled in war and politics. How well do we ever know the people we love? The Tin Heart Gold Mine opens in 1985 with Lara and Oscar, lovers in the wilderness of Chambeshi, surrounded by beauty and hidden danger. It immediately switches to London in 1988, where Lara's past love for Oscar is threatening her marriage to Tim. He leaves for Africa on a journalistic assignment, furious because Oscar has left Lara valuable paintings. It is possible that Oscar, not Tim, may be the father of Lara's son - but Tim wants to be his sole provider. A traumatized Lara starts therapy. How has her passionate commitment to art trapped her in this situation? Lara began her career as a wildlife artist in Chambeshi where she met Tim and Oscar at her art exhibition. Tim and Lara become friends, whilst Oscar commissions art from her and promises employment at the Tin Heart Gold Mine. Lara is fascinated and curious about Oscar. They become lovers. Lara finds first-hand how colonialism and the Cold War are causing civil war in Chambeshi. Tim's investigations into Oscar's work make him distrust the man and his political ambitions, and he tries to warn Lara. Neither knows how dark and deep Oscar's plan for his survival is, where it will lead or the violence that Lara will have to physically endure at Oscar's hands... The Tin Heart Gold Mine is a fast-moving novel, providing an intense portrayal of an artist's life in London and painting the landscape and politics of an African country in colourful and truthful detail. It will appeal to fans of contemporary fiction, as well as those who enjoyed Ruth's first novel, The Shaping of Water.
The Shaping of Water is a character-driven story, following the different but overlapping lives of those who are connected to a ramshackle cottage by a man-made lake in Central Africa during the Liberation wars across its region. The characters are connected in ways they can't imagine by past secrets and future tragedies. Will these connections remain hidden or be uncovered by the characters' decisions and actions? From Patrick the Jesuit, to Andy the Selous Scout; from Marielise, lover of revolutionaries Jo and Luke, to Margaret the banker's wife; from Natombi and Milimo whose home is drowned by the lake, to Manda, a young woman trying to make her marriage work; the characters are shaped by the rising lake and increasing violence in Africa. The dramatic plot is about damage and survival, passion and uncertainty, adaptation and love, set against a background of escalating war. It tells the story of a world turned upside-down by cynical politicians and reinvented by the courage of ordinary people. Enriched by a detailed knowledge of the history, geography and environment of the region and the variety of its fully realised characters, this book has wide appeal. The novel is imbued with the light, colour and flavour of the landscape, of the lake and of the cottage. The reader will discover new worlds through this riveting novel and remember them long afterwards. The author has spent most of her life in Africa and lived through the events described in this book. Unique in its context, breadth and depth of insight into a particular period of time, in a little-explored place, this book is economic in style, evocative and well written. The Shaping of Water is a good read with characters and a plot that will affect your heart, challenge your ideas, and remain in your memory. It will appeal to intelligent and thoughtful lovers of good fiction, travellers and explorers - both actual and armchair.