Stella Swanepoel has faced more than her share of tragedy, but in A Decade of Diaries she reveals an indomitable spirit sure to inspire readers.
In the first half of this memoir, we follow Swanepoel as she experiences unrelenting tragedy. She’s forced to leave her home in Zimbabwe for the U.K. due to shifting political situations; suffers the death of her beloved husband, making her a widow at 45; endures the deaths in a plane crash of her stepson, his wife and her two step-grandchildren; and is told by a doctor that she would only live for three years if she did not have brain surgery.
In the beginning of the book, the author battles depression and suicidal impulses due to having lost so many loved ones. But she manages to rally and once again enjoy life in the second part of the decade as she hits happier milestones, such as becoming a grandmother and, most interesting for readers, enjoying a never-ending parade of suitors and close friends.
Reading a decade of someone’s personal diaries might seem like a tedious endeavor, but Swanepoel’s extraordinary and unusual life makes this a thoroughly enjoyable — and even suspenseful — book. Although some of her life choices are ill-advised, such as a long-term affair with a married man, readers can’t help but root for her to finally find happiness. Once her married lover leaves, we are treated to her sometimes-magical and always colorful adventures in the world of online dating.
The author possesses a vivacious magnetism and spunk that comes through in her pithy and direct writing style. She draws many interesting characters into her life, and it’s this spirit that keeps readers turning the pages. Sadly, the last page of the book reveals another tragedy that has beset the author.
Overall, this is an inspiring, enthralling book that reminds us that even after experiencing the worst tragedy and heartbreak, joy, love and fulfillment can still be ours.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.