Thursday, 16 August 2018

Deceive and Defend by Marilyn Cohen de Villiers @MarilynCohendeV #BlogTour #MyLifeInBooks #SilvermanSaga

Like a pebble dropped in a pond, the effects of two deaths—one in the Johannesburg home of the wealthy Silverman family; the second, hundreds of kilometres away on a Free State farm—ripple across South Africa and the world, irrevocably changing the lives of four people: 

Tracy Jacobs who desperately wants journalism’s highest laurels… and also yearns for love. Now she must choose between saving her career or defending her chance of happiness;

Aviva Silverman who wants nothing more than to live happily ever after with her adored new family. Now she must place it all at risk to defend the family she left behind;

Carol Aronowitz, dedicated social worker who prides herself on her professionalism . Now she must find a way to defend herself against clear evidence of incompetence that has had disasterous consequences; and 

Yair Silverman, Aviva's twin brother, who stands to lose everything as he takes a drastic decision to deceive everyone.

Set against the backdrop of South Africa’s post-Mandela decline, Deceive and Defend is as current and thought provoking as today’s headlines.

Deceive and Defend by Marilyn Cohen de Villiers was published in May 2018 and is book three in the Silverman Saga.
As part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour I'm delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today. She's talking about the books that are special to her in My Life In Books

My Life in Books - Marilyn Cohen de Villiers

Little Women – Louise May Alcott
This was the book that made me fall in love with reading. I won an illustrated abridged copy (for handwriting) in Grade 1. The beautiful pictures intrigued me, so I learned to read quickly in order to find out what it was all about. I have since read, and reread, the full, unabridged series; seen the movies, watched the TV series … and still cry when Beth dies.

Exodus – Leon Uris
I was in high school when I read Exodus for the first time. It was essentially my introduction to my Jewish heritage. I learned about the pogroms in Russia, the holocaust and the birth of the State of Israel. I had heard about all this before, I imagine, but this book brought it to life for me. I went on to read every one of Uris’ books and loved most of them (especially Battle Cry, Mila 18 and QB Vll), but Exodus remains my favourite.

We the Living – Ayn Rand
I was still in high school when I discovered Ayn Rand. While I enjoyed the Fountainhead, I found Howard Roark a little too esoteric for my teenage sensibilities. However, We the Living’s Kira Argounova became my idol – she was so strong, so brave and so, so tragic. I’m not sure how much Ayn Rand’s political philosophy shaped my own political thinking – quite a lot, I imagine.

Eagle in the Sky – Wilbur Smith
How can you live in South Africa and not read Wilbur Smith – especially when you are still in high school and his first novel, When the Lion Feeds, is banned (too much sex)? Much as I enjoyed all his (early) novels, I adored Eagle in the Sky, sniffing and snivelling though it numerous times. The hero, David Morgan, was probably my first serious literary crush.

Bleak House - Charles Dickens
I adore Dickens. I love the way he weaves social commentary into really good stories, without preaching and pontificating. Of all his novels – and I have read most of them – Bleak House remains my favourite. I read the entire book in one 18-hour marathon while at university (I had a class tutorial on it the next day) and enjoyed every minute of it.

The Source – James Mitchener
I loved the sweep of this historical saga, particularly as I came to know this area of Israel quite well during my six months working on a kibbutz there. Our orchards were across the road from the Megiddo Tel – the source of Mitchener’s plot. The story itself may or may not be accurate (when I read The Covenant, which was about South Africa, I found many historical inaccuracies), but the overall scope of The Source was hugely impressive, informative and enthralling.

Roots – Alex Haley
I have no idea how much (or how little) of this book is factual – and I don’t care. It provided gripping insight into a history I knew very little about.

The Millennium Trilogy – Stieg Larsson
Unputdownable. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; The Girl who Played with Fire; The Girl who kicked the Hornets’ Nest. This, to me, was gripping thriller writing at its best. I devoured all three books.

Kerry Kilcannon series – Richard North Patterson
I really enjoyed the way the author imbued “Protect and Defend” and “Balance of Power” with insights into the convoluted American political system via two extremely important issues: gun control and abortion. After reading these books, I read The Race, which is about the American presidential election process. If you want to understand the Trump phenomenon – and these books were written long before Trump’s political ambitions came to the fore – read these.

Still Alice – Lisa Genova
This novel about a woman (of about my age) who develops early onset Altzheimer’s haunts me. The movie was good, but the book is brilliant. A frightening, beautifully crafted insight into one of the most terrifying diseases of our time.

I was born and raised in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs, the youngest daughter of an extraordinarily ordinary, happy, stable, traditional (rather than observant) Jewish family. After matriculating at Northview High School, I went to Rhodes University in Grahamstown where I served on the SRC, competed (badly) in synchronised swimming and completed a B. Journalism degree. This was followed by a “totally useless” – according to my parents – English Honours (first class), also at Rhodes.
With the dawning of the turbulent 1980s, I started my career as a reporter on a daily newspaper, working first in the news and later, the finance departments. During this period, I interviewed, among others, Frank Sinatra, Jeffrey Archer, Eugene Terre’blanche and Desmond Tutu. I caught crocodiles; avoided rocks and tear smoke canisters in various South African townships; stayed awake through interminable city council meetings and criminal and civil court cases – and learned to interpret balance sheets.
I also married my news editor, Poen de Villiers and, despite all the odds against us coming as we did from totally different backgrounds, we remained happily married for 32 years and three days. Poen passed away as a result of diabetes complications on 15 March, 2015.
After the birth of our two daughters, I ‘crossed over’ into Public Relations with its regular hours and predictability.  My writing – articles, media releases, opinion and thought leadership pieces and so on – was published regularly in newspapers and other media, usually under someone else’s by-line. But after more than 20 years, I decided the time had come to go it alone. I now work as a freelance wordsmith which (theoretically) gives me more time to focus on what I love best – writing fiction.
So why, after a lifetime of writing non-fiction, did I decide to try my hand at fiction? The catalyst was the unexpected death of a childhood friend and colleague in 2012. This spurred me to take stock of my life, to think about what I had achieved.  A few months later, I decided to try and write a novel. This turned out to be A Beautiful Family which was published in July 2014.  The fiction bug had bitten, and my second novel, When Time Fails, was launched in September 2015. Now, the third and final novel in the Silverman Saga Trilogy, Deceive and Defend, is launching in June 2018… and novel number 4 is percolating in my head.

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