I spent Sunday with Tertia Albertyn …

On Sunday morning I finished “The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver – what an incredible book.

poisonwood bible

I am stealing a review from Amazon, which is exactly as the book is:

I read Kingsolver’s earlier “Pigs in Heaven” and “Bean Trees.” I picked up “The Poisonwood Bible” on impulse to read while on vacation. Once I started reading it, I found it hard to put down.

I have never had much interest in African history, but this book made me want to find out more. Her characters, as in her earlier books, are very well realized and fascinating.

The story begins with the arrival in the Belgian Congo of Nathan Price, fire and brimstone Baptist preacher, and his reluctant family. The family’s story is told by Nathan’s wife, Orleanna, and their five {Reluctant Mom – error here, there are four daughters, unless I am missing something} daughters – shallow teen-age Rachel, twins Leah and Adah, and five-year-old Ruth May.

The voices of the characters are authentic and believable.

Other reviewers are correct in their assessment that this is, in a sense, two books. The first is about Nathan’s clumsy and ill-advised attempts to fit Africa to his fundamentalist beliefs, and the family’s attempts to fit their lives to Africa. The second is about the way a family tragedy marks its survivors and the different ways events in Africa mark them as well. I don’t agree that Kingsolver should have “stopped writing” at the end of the first part.

I was absolutely spellbound by the way the voices changed and the way they stayed the same from the first to the last of the book.

One believes in the characters, they change and grow as the book progresses. Other reviewers found Rachel grating, but I think that was the point. Her shallowness brought home the points that Kingsolver was making even more effectively than the earnest preaching by Leah. I got the sense that in her own way, Rachel understood the events perfectly well, but that she did not care.

I felt very complete when I finished the book. It was a satisfying experience

Source:  Amazon reviewer.

Finished the book, took a look around and thought, I really need to read another book.  So Close by Tertia Albertyn was lying on my study table.  I picked it up, thought, okay, I will give this a gander.

And that was where I spent my Sunday.  I started at about 09h30 and finished it at about 16h30.  There was the usual shopping, kids, making lunch, trying to stop the kids arguing about whose turn it was to change the channel — all the normal Sunday stuff in between.

I am not sure why I have not read this book earlier.

I was captivated/engrossed/sucked in/ignored my children totally from page one.

I have never met Tertia, but I felt like I was sitting next to her, and her mom, through each scan.

The book made me cry, makes me laugh, made me smile through the snot in certain places.  It made me hold my children a bit closer (when I remembered they were there), made me shake my head and wonder how infertiles manage to survive to face another day.

I did not like the book.  I loved the book.

It is an easy read, it all feels familiar – strangely so.  It was like I was sitting with a girlfriend and having a long lunch, with lots of wine and she was telling me her story.

Tertia writes in such a genuine way, you do not feel like she is trying tooo hard, or that she is so hopelessly painful that you prefer not to look.

Her story is incredible.  Her story is human.  Her story is pain and pain, and hope, and then pain, and repeat as many times as necessary.

I cried for Hannah.  I sobbed for Luke.  I tjanked for Ben.

Would I recommend the book to you to read?  Yes, most definitely.  Tertia brings with her an energy, a humour, and a spirit that you cannot but admire.

I am in awe of her. I am in deep adoration of someone who can survive that much, and still has the energy to get out of bed.


I have a slightly used version of the book.  Would you like to read it?  Let me know, and I will send my copy to you.


Leave a comment


  1. If you’re still scrolling to find your choice of recipient for Tertia’s book, I hope that your beautifully manicured nail stops at my name 🙂

    Would love to read Tertia’s story. I have loved, and lost, two unborn children but am blessed with three more who went the full 9 months, and burst into my life with the insane notion that I was worthy of being their mum. I’d also pass on the book to a very good friend who has struggled for years with infertility, adopted two children, and now lives far from me but remains close to my heart.

  2. V

     /  May 17, 2013

    Hi, I worked with Tertia a number of years ago and also became addicted to her blog. I was there when she had her last 2 twin pregnancies though I did not know her very well and initially was a bit scared of her! Through her experience of losing her babies, I think she kind of paved the way at work for people to deal with that kind of loss. After her return to work she sent out an email thanking those who sympathised with her loss and giving some advice to others on how to deal with a bereaved mother. Then about a year later when my Kendra died, I think my colleagues were a little bit better equipped to deal with it.
    Anyhoo, I think I have a spare copy of So Close as I bought 2, 1 for me and 1 for my bookclub. I will have a look and you are welcome to pass it on as I see you have quite a few requests for it. Maybe we can do it this way, if anyone lives in the Tableview area they can collect my book, but sorry not the autographed one!!

    • reluctantmom

       /  May 17, 2013

      That is so sweet Vanessa, great story, and great chance to pass it forward.

  3. Erin

     /  April 30, 2013

    I have been addicted to her blog for years! It has helped me to be a better friend to ones I love going through infertility and have meant to buy the book for some time. LOVE her humor, and her hope. Would love to read it, even though I know I’d ignore my kids all day too, haha! 🙂

  4. Leanne

     /  April 30, 2013

    Books make me happy, well them and specials on toilet paper 😉
    I promise to pass it on and on

  5. I loved the Poisonwood bible. And I would totally love any of the two copies to read. And I will make it “travel” along later.

  6. Beverley

     /  April 30, 2013

    Hi Celeste! I’d love to read Tertia’s book.

  7. A FB reader told me to read your blog today. All I can say is Wow! Thank you for an awesome (unsolicited) review! It was great to spend Sunday with you too 😉

    As a thank you, I would like to offer another of your readers a free copy of my book. You can decide who gets it (<– very mean of me!)

    Thanks to you and to everyone who reads my story. Through your reading, the memory of my gone-but-not-forgotten children lives on.


    • reluctantmom

       /  April 29, 2013

      Oh my giddy aunt!! Thanks Tertia – I will be giving away my slightly used version, and of course your (celebrity endorsed) version …. mmmm …. I wonder which will be more in demand!!

  8. I read Tertia’s book many years ago, during my own struggle with infertility, it was she who gave me the courage (and contact details) for our social worker. LOVE the book SO Close, but hated The Poisonwood Bible, I gave up trying to read it in the end!

  9. Charlotte aka The Stiletto Mum

     /  April 29, 2013

    Please PICK ME… I need a good book for my childfree Hermanus weekend.

  10. countesskaz

     /  April 29, 2013

    I have read both. I gave So Close to a couple that had twins but had battled to have kids. The mom read it first and sobbed and then gave it to her husband who read it in the dairy while milking the cows, in fact he read and read until he had finished it. Both said they sobbed like babies and both had found that it healed them a bit. The whole infertility thing is very traumatic.

    The Poisonwood Bible is one of the most profound books I’ve ever read. I read it years ago, but i still remember it well and think about it a lot. I loved it..

  11. nickyhster@gmail.com

     /  April 29, 2013

    I’d love to read it- I’ve been meaning to buy it for ages,and never got around to it.
    Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

  12. Nicky

     /  April 29, 2013

    I’d love to read it! I follow her blog, think she’s amazing. I read her blog from beginning to end…

  1. So Close …. give away to two Reluctant Mom readers |
  2. The reason Reluctant Mom Blog has no commercial longetivity … |

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