Notes

Knot of Stone

One of the real treats of living in a guesthouse and meeting such a wide range of people is that you become good friends with many. It is natural then, that when they return for a second, third or fourth visit, you greet them as a guest but also as a friend. Two such friends have just been for their annual visit and it was, again, inspiring, interesting and just too quick.

Nicolaas Vergunst is a published author who currently is riding the crest of his most amazing book, Knot of Stone. Born in Cape Town of post-war Dutch emigrants he worked as an artist, art teacher, designer, curator and journalist. After a career with the South African national museums, now Iziko Museums of Cape Town, he resigned to write Knot of Stone and has since lived in Kiev and Kinshasa with his wife Ellen, a Dutch diplomat and historian. They live in Strasbourg today where, as the Netherland’s ambassador to the Council of Europe (CoE), she promotes the implementation of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Knot of Stone is a tale of historical detection in which two unlikely travel companions—a Dutch historian, Sonja Haas, and an Afrikaans archaeologist, Jason Tomas—find themselves drawn together after uncovering a mass-grave on the old foreshore of Cape Town. Their search for fresh evidence leads the reader further north to ancestral burial sites, remote mountain sanctuaries, sacred springs, medieval monasteries and some rare museum artefacts. Via various roadside encounters, including the startling revelations of a local sangoma (a healer empowered by the ancestors), the two travellers reconstruct the past and their own identities, with divergent consequences. As the book’s main focaliser, Sonja’s inner conflict reflects her passage from doubt (tormentoso) to hope (esperança), echoing the transition from a Cape of Storms to the Cape of Good Hope. Like Sonja’s search for herself, this story is ultimately a tale of self-discovery.

Order a copy of Knot of Stone today. It is a most engaging read.