A middle-aged lexicographer, Helena Verbloem, travels alone to Durban to assist in the creation of a dictionary of Afrikaans words that have fallen out of use. Shortly after her arrival, her apartment is burglarized, and her collection of precious shells, shells that she had been collecting for a lifetime, is stolen. Meeting with indifference from the local police, she decides to investigate the crime on her own, with the help of her new friend from the Museum of Natural History, Sof. While investigating the crime, Helena reflects on the life she’s lived—her ex-husband, her daughter, her lovers, her childhood—and begins to fall in love with her married boss, Theo Verway.
An alternately sublime and satirical meditation on love, loss, and obsession, Ingrid Winterbach's The Book of Happenstance
is an emotionally affecting masterpiece from one of South Africa’s most exciting authors.