A Question of Belonging
The farm Kloof may provide a sanctuary of sorts – but who really belongs here and how important is belongingness anyway?
When her husband Jan is killed by a landmine, his widow Veronica (Ronnie) Boltman has little choice but to pick up her life and continue to farm Kloof. At stake are her young son Rudi’s inheritance, the livelihoods of her farm labourers and her own sense of belonging. From time to time she reaches out for assistance to the owner of the neighbouring property, Jan’s former best friend Piet Toerien. But Piet has problems of his own. And there are some who have other plans.
Set in Northern Transvaal in South Africa, Kloof was founded on trust and honesty, the principles of which still exist generations later. But now it is 1978 and the isolated smallholdings that sit on the border between Southern Rhodesia and Mozambique find themselves in the path of someone else’s war.
An edgy mix of physical isolation and emotional alienation where vulnerability meets grit and determination, A Question of Belonging reaches for the essence of what it means – and just what it takes – to belong.
Available for order from bookshops worldwide and all major online bookstores including Booktopia, Amazon and Book Depository.
‘At the deepest level Ronnie is interrogating her identity in relation to place, history, family and responsibility… where does she belong? This is a novel of few major characters but those few are beautifully drawn to reveal their own difficulties around where, and how, they belong — not just physically but emotionally.’ Review by Carmel Bendon in online literary journal Verity La.
‘An engrossing story of a strong woman and her attachment to place. The characters come to life as does the country she inhabits. Thoroughly enjoyable!’ Dianne Rowling on Amazon *****
‘How far would you go to protect your family? By turns heartbreaking and joyful, A Question of Belonging is a deceptively intimate novel in which tumultuous outward events imbue the fraught intertwined lives of just a handful of characters with a rich universality.’ William Yeoman, Literary Editor of The West Australian.
‘Set during the tumultuous 1978 civil war on the border of Rhodesia and Mozambique, A Question of Belonging paints beautifully the juxtaposition of the yearning to belong on a personal level, when surrounded by uncertainty and political unrest. Tangea Tansley’s deeply engaging narrative will have you reflecting on your own sense of belonging.’ writing WA
‘A few reflections: I couldn’t help thinking that your story of ‘belonging’ derived some of its strength from your grandfather, Isidore. His life included multiple displacements, painful estrangement from family, a confused identity and a tragic end. I think there is some merit in the notion of transgenerational transmission of experience, particularly traumatic experience. My engagement with your book is also a reflection of having lived in three Australian states, both urban and rural, as well as overseas. We now live in a tiny country town where families go back four generations or more. One elderly resident recently confided that she was a ‘newcomer’, having only lived here since the 1920s. In such a setting, where many are established in their land holdings and historical interfamily relationships, it is easy to feel an absence of belonging. Such sentiments are fortunately tempered by the warmth of our small community.’ David Rampling, Yacka
‘I really loved this book. It spoke to me by addressing my own Question of Belonging. A really great read, on many levels. Could not put it down.’ Qigong teacher Antoinette Weston, Cottesloe.
‘ I was deeply interested in your book. I think it was because I had lived in the Karoo for three years that the tale rang so very true.’ Artist Lorette Roberts, Framlingham, UK.
‘Congratulations on a thoroughly well-written and intriguing novel: a joy to read.’ Prof. Roger Wheater, OBE, Scotland.
Perspectives: Story & Memoir
The unacknowledged dangers of homesickness, religious and cultural difference and understanding, frustrated ambition, political correctness in the classroom, the slippery search for identity: Perspectives offers a selection of powerful stories that evoke all the pain and wonder of the human condition by turning the spotlight on some of the major issues of our time by recognising the nature of our innate humanness.
In the memoir section, Tansley examines the largely unacknowledged dis-ease of homesickness in the light of her mother’s struggle with chronic longing for Africa, investigates her own feelings of identity on discovering her Jewish background and relates the inspirational story of an elderly friend who found romance in her nineties. In a series of three short pieces, Once Were Immigrants once again underscores the essential human need for connection. More than just a collection of short stories and memoir, this is a book that provides a reflection of the world we live in.
A number of pieces in this collection — both fiction and non-fiction and including a story by the author’s late father Ken Coton — have won awards in national competitions, been published in literary journals, newspapers and anthologies, and broadcast both nationally and overseas.
‘With vivid imagination and sharp intelligence, Tangea Tansley’s stories probe the struggle of being “human in a not-always-humane” world. Running a gamut of emotions, an extraordinary range of characters is wonderfully realised: an old woman suffering from Alzheimer’s, a graphic artist out of work because of his principles, a taxi driver attached by a mysterious young passenger, a lotto ticketholder who every week hopes not to win. Tansley’s writing is writing of great maturity, tensions held in balance, drama often matched with humour, and not a word wasted.’ Emeritus Professor Dennis Haskell, AM, Chair writingWA
‘…a substantial compilation, impressive in its range of different narrative methods. Even within the first-person point of view that you’ve often used, there are variations in tense, tone of voice etc., so the reader is drawn into seeing an assortment of experiences from several angles in successive stories. Some of the stories linger particularly in my mind – Nightmare Fare, My Mother was a Russian Spy, Singapore Sting… Plenty of diverse characters and settings, too. And then the Memoir pieces add another dimension to the book – an unusual mixing of genres. So it’s not surprising that, as the Acknowledgements page indicates, your work has appealed to a number of different publications and competitions.’ Writer and critic Ian Reid
Available from all major online bookstores including Booktopia, Amazon and Book Depository.
Cover design: Novel Prevue/Photo: Viv Tansley
Out of Place
‘I say to you, Dana, come prepared to enjoy yourself. That’s the only way this will work…’
When, finally, Dana turns her back on her own career to join her husband Dekker on a company camp in Saudi Arabia, she smothers her apprehension with the conviction that she is doing the right thing. This is the brave new world of the Sixties after all. What harm can come from taking six months, a year perhaps, as time-out?
But she is totally unprepared for the harsh reality and restrictions of her new environment, for the frustration and unhappiness she will uncover and for the predicament in which she finds herself.
As the title suggests, Out of Place is a story about dislocation and loneliness — states of being that in this unusual location give rise to a set of complications not easily resolved.
Shortlisted from 546 entries in the Penguin-Varuna manuscript competition
Click here to buy through Booktopia.
Available in Perth at selected bookstores including the Lane Bookshop Claremont, New Edition Books Fremantle, Dymocks Garden City, the Millpoint Book Caffe South Perth, the Well Bookshop Applecross
Reader feedback and comments
I loved your descriptions. Dana & her thought processes were fascinating & I could relate to how our uncertainties can sometimes overwhelm us. The book & characters felt real to me. Wendy, North Fremantle
Love the imagery. It is indeed like being transported right there. A wistful but beautiful book and writing. Amelia, Amazon*****
Great read. The author is descriptive and the plot keeps you entertained. It’s the kind of book that you say oh, just another chapter and suddenly it’s midnight. Sam Wilcox, Amazon*****
…it wouldn’t leave me alone for most of the day. I’m well past halfway through and I must say I’m really enjoying it. Beautiful writing and interesting characters. Brian Cook, The Authors’ Agent, Sydney
I loved this book for its insights into a world I knew nothing of. I’ve read it twice now and think I’ll read it again. June Vivian, Swanbourne.
Meant to tell you that I finally had a chance to read it recently. And absolutely loved it. Fabulous fabulous story and writing. Tammy Anastasakis, East Fremantle
I have just finished reading ‘Out of Place’. Beautifully written, which is what I have come to expect of Tangea’s writing; it is always a work of art. Dana, the main character of the story, winds her way into your heart, with her mixture of fragility and strength. The poignant ending, full of secret yearnings of a time long gone, left me with tears in my eyes. Toni, Cottesloe
I read it in no time at all and have to say your writing simply amazes me. You paint such a clear picture of life in a Saudi compound it’s easy to understand why so many relationships end up on the rocks. I’m sure almost everybody knows somebody whose marriage didn’t survive and is it any wonder! Maureen Pratt, Lesmurdie
It was very interesting to read a novel set in a different type of context — and your use of descriptive language is superb. Allan and Jane Green, Nedlands
A Break in the Chain – the Early Kozminskys
Melbourne: Affirm Press, 2011.
In 1856, Simon Kozminsky travelled from Prussia to begin a new life in the fledgling colony of Victoria. In the heady days of the gold rush, he established a jewellery house that would gain world renown.
But behind the glittering facade of wealth, glamour and influence lay a darker, sadder story: a mysterious rift between Simon and his eldest son.
In an extraordinary coincidence, the answer to this life-long estrangement was painted by Australia’s pre-eminent artist of the time, Frederick McCubbin. The portrait depicted the beautiful young Irish woman, Eileen Watkins, who unwittingly drove a wedge between father and son.
Longlisted by the State Library of Victoria for One Country Reading 2011.
Critical reviews and reader comments
‘I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your beautifully written book. I especially enjoyed your Postscript for its sense of obligation and honesty, and also because I could identify with the sentiments you convey. I suspect fiction may be better than the ‘truth’ in a circumstance such as yours as you literally embody DNA whose expression has been influenced by the experiences of your forebears. I know this latter statement probably requires clarification – perhaps sufficient to say that some authorities believe that we carry some sort of genetic imprint of the lived experiences of our ancestors.’ David Rampling, Yacka.
‘This is a warm, lively, empathetic novel full of fascinating social history.’
Sydney Morning Herald
‘A bold and imaginative re-writing of Tansley’s famous family’s history, told with the dedication of the historian and the imaginative flair of the novelist … (She) transforms the veiled landscape of the past into an enthralling panoply which speaks to her writers in the present. A well-written and gripping book and far more than the story of a migrant family…’
Novelist, columnist and literary critic Alan Gold
‘This has got movie written all over it.’
Denis Walter, 3AW, Sydney
‘The novel and family history are necessarily different types of writing. In attempting to write one, it appears that Tansley has become deliciously and successfully entangled in the expectations of the other.’ Miriam Zolin, Australian Book Review
Tansley brings alive her father’s stories of the development of Melbourne. The blend of fact and fiction gives this book its richness.’
‘A beautifully written imagining of three generations of her family.’
‘At the core of the book is Judaism and what it means when affection strays beyond religious barriers. Tansley records the lives of her ancestors not in dry prose but in an imaginative, fictive construct. She has a lot of spaces in the record to fill and her responses are largely pitch perfect.’
The Sunday Age
‘An engaging story that gives a human face to Melbourne’s explosive growth during the gold rush…A Break in the Chain will resonate with anyone who has ever witnessed the deep, astonishing antagonism to an interfaith relationship, and the permanent damage to family ties that such antagonism can cause.’
Bracha Rafael,Galus Australis
‘Richly researched, splendidly illuminating. A Break in the Chain offers insider history, the private story beyond the public history, an emotionally dense and intriguing Australian story of high achievement, and of cultures and traditions in rich conflict.’
Writer and academic Michael Meehan
‘I’ve read A Break in the Chain and absolutely loved it – what a fascinating family history! I’m planning to select it for a forthcoming book club meeting.’ Lynn Gauntlett, Perth
‘I read your book A Break in the Chain. What an achievement – it was so interesting and beautifully written.’ Carolyn Denham, Perth
‘I loved reading this book — in fact I could not put it down for the lovely piece of writing that it is.’ Sheriden Sommerley, Port Macquarie
‘I finished reading A Break in the Chain a couple of weeks ago and have been meaning to email you to tell you how much I enjoyed it. What a ripping yarn and how beautifully told.’ Jeremy Bloom, Melbourne
‘I thoroughly enjoyed it and couldn’t put it down. I really felt I was there and loved the way you wove so much about the life and times into the story while building the history of your family. What an extraordinary tale…’ Penny Crozier, Melbourne
‘This is a long overdue email to tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed A Break in the Chain. It really is a great story…the essence of each of the characters really shines through… both their strengths and struggles. I wish you luck with digging up Emma’s intriguingly mysterious past…’ Rosy Correia-Waller, Perth.
Currently out of print
For Women Who Grieve
First printed Lothian Books, Melbourne, 1995
Reprints, Crossing Press, USA 1996
Two Speed Press, USA 1998
*Limited copies of the original Australian print edition are available at cost plus shipping. Please be aware that many of the contact names and addresses in the ‘Helpline’ list at the back of the book will have changed.
Available through Amazon Kindle
I was taken by surprise by my husband’s death and in the whirlwind of confusion that followed I lost my way. This book arose out of my painful and circuitous journey back to enjoying my life once again.
As one dear friend wrote: “Blue skies will come again…” and even though it seemed impossible at the time, she was right and eventually they did, bluer and deeper than I could ever have imagined.
This book offers a helping hand to others trying to come to terms with the loss of a mate. Topics I cover include understanding death, letting go, coping with sexuality, dealing with the legal and financial aspects of loss, gaining insight from dreams and wise people, and dealing with the grief of family and friends along with your own.
‘Have just been given your wonderful book For Women Who Grieve – read it in a day and virtually connected and related to everything you expressed in your book. It has been my journey. Thanks for reaffirming my beliefs and experiences. I wish you continued success. By the way this is the first time in my 72 years I have felt motivated enough to write to an author but it touched such a deep truth within me I couldn’t help myself. Will be sharing the book with others.’ June Lord
‘Our culture, by and large, is not comfortable with this kind of reality. We prefer not to think about death, loss or loneliness, but keep ourselves busy and working hard at being happy. That is why this book is important, and for all of us, not just those who have recently lost a partner.’ From foreword by noted writer and academic Sister Veronica Brady
‘Tansley’s warm personal disclosures will undoubtedly assist women who mourn; those who feel lost and dejected will find joy and hope in place of despair, and a sense of purpose for the future.’
‘…the clear message from one grieving woman to others is that “you are not alone” and that “your experience is valued and normal”…’
Australian Health Review
‘…an essential and valuable addition to any collection of “help” books on the painful and sensitive subject of death, dying, and the process of grieving’
Midwest Book Review
‘…this is a sensible, sensitive approach to the grieving process that would be as helpful to a man as to a woman whose spouse has died…’
‘This book is written in the form of a series of steps to take the reader gently through different stages of grief — understanding death, letting go, being gentle with yourself, world of words, dreaming, mind control’
Weekly Times (Vic)
Women Who Grieve (Lothian Books) is a step-by-step guide to dealing with grief, written from the first-hand experience of its author Tangea Tansley. The book offers practical advice on handling the loss and despair we feel when our dearest die. Issues such as loneliness, and spiritual and emotional pain, are fully explored with sound advice on strategies to help move through the grieving process to achieve acceptance and healing.
Teamwork: The Story of the Correia Brothers
Family history commissioned by Rosy Correia-Waller and David Correia.
I’ve loved all my writing assignments, but it was a real privilege working with the Correia family on their incredible story of courage, hard work, innovation and resilience. Thanks folks. Tangea
Ghosted for Ethnee Holmes a Court
Sydney: Gary Allen, 2003
An intensely personal account of the work that goes into creating a horse stud from scratch and the many successes and heartbreaks along the way. Heyesbury Stud is a behind-the-scenes look at building ‘the most fabulous thoroughbred stud’ in the southern hemisphere.
Currently out of print.
From the very beginning, the index summary alone, manages to bring your emotions to the surface. It is a light, easy-to-read book, following one woman’s journey in her later years of life. Reading this book will give anyone a new burst of energy to go and try the things they want to, no matter what age, obstacles or limitations we put on ourselves. Buy it & read it. Pass it on to your friend to read as well… Monika Australia