Reviews

Naomi Daniels, Canberra 

Thank you for sharing your memoirs in your book a Darker Shade of Pale.

I just could not put it down. I opened the package and held in my hand the book you’ve poured your heart and soul into. I read every word with blended emotions. The lump in my throat and tears in my eyes started right from the beginning, through to the end with the hilarious parts keeping me sane. At times I felt emotionally exhausted and drained as your story led me down the road I travelled, yet somehow had forgotten or chose to block out. Rocked to the core, by the raw and original memoirs I just had to keep reading. I felt a pang of sadness when it came to a close, I wanted the story to continue.

There’s so much I can relate to, so I feel your emotions, both happy and sad throughout your story. I’m enlightened yet simultaneously captivated by the tragedies and the triumphs and feel like I know your entire family. I would have loved to meet Georgie, the larrikin – he sure knew how to embrace and live life to its fullest.

You mum and dad, on opposite sides of the pole, one pushing politics driven by a natural resentment of apartheid and the other pushing education and urging you all to keep your heads down to make life worthwhile. Both, playing an integral role in the future of your entire family. I’m sure there’s many out there that can relate to the political debates at home, at meal times etc. This is how I was educated about the system that failed so many.

I love how you translated and told the story to your dad, recognising everything he instilled and wished for.

Your story is told with the utmost humility and culminates in the victory that came from a vision your mum planted in you all.

Your victory born from this vision is now your mum’s legacy.

Pure determination, resilience and her unrelenting love – without her knowing – she birthed a legacy so great and she is so blessed to experience it.

The small steps taken and sacrifices made, provide giant leaps and opportunities for others, that in itself is a legacy.

There’s so many aspects of this book that I can analyse over and over, yet it brings me to the same conclusion…

A wonderful story, humbly told, poignant, gut wrenching in places, heartwarming and victorious without an iota of resentment or bitterness.

Highly recommended and cannot wait for the next book📚 or three.

Congratulations and best wishes for a memorable 1st Book Launch
Shine bright like a Diamond 💎

 

Gail Galpad, Cape Town

I finished your book in a day and a half, it was so good. I know some of the people you mentioned…. some things the those criminals did to us I have forgotten. Thanks for bringing it all back (and with that I remember my grandparents so much more clearly).

Naomi Paech, South Australia

Truly the best book I have read in a very long time. An amazing book.

Engrid Manogian, Sydney

I could not put this book down once I started , it made a flight from Sydney to Auckland wizz by! It is a very insightful and eye opening piece of work all the while woven into a very gripping and beautiful crafted story , highly recommend !!

Richard Ceasar, Cape Town

What an amazing story!!. Couldn’t put the book down, it was just filled with truths concerning the pass!

Lesley  Rietstein, Sydney

I loved your book! It was written as if you were telling a story – a story for SO many who just could not write, would not write, were scared to write or the memories were too painful. I think it was a very necessary book and will be a history for all the generations. Memory is very important to share and express and you have done this!

Geraldine Hess, Cape Town

What an amazing story!!! Thank you for telling our story so well!

Jenni Armstrong-Kolbe, Canberra

Beryl your book took me on a journey of triumphs and tragedy. I laughed with you and sobbed with you.

So much of it resonates with me, especially being the only ‘coloured’ in a white dominated employment environment. First day at the job I wanted to go to the toilet and found it was locked. I asked one of the girls for the key and was told I had to use the toilet upstairs. I told the supervisor I don’t see the sense in using the upstairs toilet when there was one on our floor. I told him I was going to the parade to use the public toilet (I worked at the top of loop st) so came back more than an hour later. When I got back the key was on my desk. I put in in my pocket and never locked that door again.
Your mum!! OMG!! She was the backbone of your family. You all have so much to thank her for and you’re so blessed to still have her in your lives. What an inspirational woman she is.

Yolande De Villiers Ruiters, New Zealand

Reading Beryl’s memoir about life and love in apartheid South Africa, the empath in me gave rise to weeping over her sad losses. However, time for weeping has to pass and my natural curiosity had to be satisfied. We all have different personal stories, I reveled in the joys of Georgie’s character, the commitment and strength of a doggedly determined mother and devoted dreamer of a father. His consistency in loving his family, wanting the best for their lives. His pain and frustration at being hamstrung by apartheid, but his words did not fall on deaf ears.

When love entered her life, she takes the reader along on that ride. Interrupted amorous moments, love finally culminating in a beautiful family, huge decisions and a personal passion that opens the door to her success in employment. What high echelons she spent her work days in! You have to read this book, it is truly a reflection of life in apartheid South Africa, the frustrations, examples of the oppression, it shows the closed minds that exercised power over those they had no right to, other than punitive laws to protect the apartheid empire. Apartheid did in some cases, irreparable damage to psyche of the people it oppressed and created monsters. But it did not completely destroy us, many escaped in various ways, eduction as Sarah so clearly believed, was a way out. Beryl asks the questions that has to be asked and finds her own answers. Written without malice or rancour, the story is well woven making this book hard to put down.

Jan Montgomery, New South Wales

Beryl I bough your book and I have to congratulate you on such a wonderful memoir of your life. I was so taken of the names of places streets and suburbs you names as I lived in Cape Town and knew so many of the places you named.
Beryl I have always wanted to write my life story as my story is the other side of the coin. I could not be a coloured girl as I fell in love with a coloured man.
I can relate so much to your book I could not put it down I read it in one day. I loved it and once again congratulations and well done.

Tanya Southey, Melbourne

This booked moved me deeply. I read it when it first came out and still think about it. Such a sensitive exploration of a difficult topic, one that can easily fall to hate and blame. Instead, it is a quiet triumph of love and finding your own way in a world you are not allowed to fit into. So perfect. Beryl, you did your family proud.

Bianca Heuvel, Sydney

A great read, a story of family, love, loss and how we are affected by circumstances.

Vanessa Welby-Solomon, Cape Town

Read your book in a day. Thank you for capturing your story so vividly. Hope the younger generations read it to understand things better.

Reynold Arend Stevens, Bredasdorp

I’ve just finished reading your book. Brilliantly done, Beryl Crosher-Segers. Flawless writing… the integration of place, time, characterisation, themes. Your editor did an excellent job. So proud of you, cuz. Looking forward to reading your next one!

Gillian Cortereal, Gordon’s Bay

I read your book, ticking my boxes. You truly captured the story of us, darker shade of pale, people. I, on the other hand, did not have your freedom, and had to unchain myself from further layers of control, a strict religious belief system and abusive men in my life badly affected by ‘the law’ . I cannot imagine, what we, Retreat girls, will achieve, when we merge our stories. I saw myself in your book over and over, and stopped to pause, and thank the Lord that those days are past Eg a retired Bank manager, in the Bank where I was a teller, the first darker skinned teller in that branch.. As I called and gestured ‘next customer’, he ignored me. I served the entire row, while my colleagues counted huge deposits of cash. He stood, waiting long for one of them, then as he passed me, said ‘ek laat nie anderkleuriges aan my geld raak nie’. My colleagues made as if they did not hear it, they greeted him with the usual glee when greeting their old manager. Hurts, we had to get over as soon as possible, because we were constantly in survivor mode.

Bev Papier-McArthur, South Africa

Thank you Beryl for writing this absolutely amazing book! A Darker Shade of Pale, which tells of your lived experiences encapsulates the memories etched into the lives of so many people. Moments of humour, sadness and heart wrenching emotions of the reality in which we found ourselves makes this and excellent read. I have shared snippets of it with some of my learners. I watched as they respectfully inspected its cover , read the blurb and passed it from one to the next. They too want to read it. Your book has had a profound effect on me. I am inspired! Thanks again my dear cousin.

Phadia Weber-Hendricks, Johannesburg

The book was something else brought back lots of memories and heartache our time around the Table was most entertaining memories that will last forever.

Felicity Van Rensburg, Cape Town

I just finished your book what an amazing journey you took me on. It took me back to days when we as children had to stand in front of home affairs officials in cape town on a few occasions for them to decide how to classify us because my dad was Hindu and my mom cape coloured. I ended being classified cape Muslim, my sister being “another coloured”. It brought back so many raw emotions of what we went throughout. Your memory and imagination is just exceptional, I would recommend every person who went through the struggle to please purchase a copy.I am so immensely proud of your achievement and am amaze that someone born and raised under such terrible conditions took that huge leap of faith believing she could rise above all else and achieve what you have. I salute you parents for raising a fighter or should I say a tiger. Keep writing never give up you are a natural.

Audrey Nagel, New Zealand

I just finished reading ‘A darker shade of pale’. Beryl Crosher-Segers what a testament! An enlightening read and very emotional at times when reality hit home! Thank you for putting into words what many of us held deep in our hearts unable to express.

Nigel Skippers, Cape Town

This is a book that I highly recommend you purchase.It is a poignant, often humorous, account of Beryl Crosher-Segers experiences at that time. It is an easy read (trust me, I don’t like reading intensely long books). I could, easily, relate to every story in that book, and so will you. Every South African (including expats) 43years+, and their kids, for starters, should read this MUST READ book.

Inge Mercuur, Germany

An interesting read….An Inspiration….I was born in 1977 and grew up in Retreat. Left SA on my own in 1999 for Germany…..could relate to many issues you addressed in the book. Thank you Beryl Crosher-Segers

Gill Lansom, South Africa

‘Just finished Beryl’s story. What hardships they had to put up with while we were oblivious to it all growing up in our own privilege world. I really enjoyed her writing, it brought lots of different emotions out. Thank you. I am going to put it in my book club as I feel every South African should read it.’

Fiona Crawford, Sydney 

I thought this book was very evocative. The narrative arc was well paced and Beryl brought the people and places to life, interweaving them very effectively with the broader context of apartheid. I thought the letter at the end was an nspired way to finish the book. Thanks for sharing your story.

Julia Gietzmann, Sydney 

Before the launch of the first book by Beryl Crosher-Segers I read a few negative comments from some who were harsh in their criticism of her writing her book which she has described as a memoir of apartheid South Africa. Admittedly, having lived through apartheid through the first 19 years of my life I can’t say that the book went on my book wish list but then through Facebook Beryl and I started getting a little closer. I then made the decision that I would support her by attending her book launch and I made the decision to buy and read her book solely because I wanted to get to know and understand Beryl a little more.

To those who didn’t want to be reminded about what they experienced under apartheid the book is not solely about apartheid but about Beryl’s life and apartheid played a part in shaping her. I now understand why she has never been able to ‘do nothing’ and just sit on her bum and enjoy the weather and a bubbly over prolonged periods in particular through her retirement. If you read the book you will see that throughout her life, Beryl has always been busy doing something or other. I was amazed at how thoroughly observant she is. I haven’t spent a lot of time in her company but it kinda makes me a little nervous about what she would be observing in my company. Lol.

I read the book in two sittings. It was funny, it was sad, and I was gripped, and while I was aware of most of the ‘events’ related to apartheid I am glad I read the book just because it put those events in date order for me as they had become vague in my memory. In reading the book, I’ve come to realise how much my parents shielded us from the ugliness of apartheid because I did not have nor was I aware of the many things that Beryl and her family experienced. After reading the book, at first I thought it was wrong of my parents to shield me as much as what they did and bar me from protests even though I got caught up in one on the way home from high school which was pretty scary, I understand why my parents protected us like they did as I would have done the same for my only child.

Beryl, now that I’ve read your book, I understand your need to write your story. From your Facebook posts I knew you had a way with words but I was astounded at your language in your book. It felt like I was there experiencing what you did and my favourite character in your book was your Dad. He would be looking down on you with immense pride, pride which you should have in yourself too. I’m keeping my book for my daughter and future grandchildren, if there are any in the future because it’s the kinda book which is not just about a family but also historical about the country it’s about, Apartheid South Africa.

Margie Blake, Cape Town

I have now been able to read your book – I found, as I read it, I was consumed by 2 levels of rage. One was rage at what was done to your family and so many thousands of others – those tolling lists of legislations passed with no real protest from anyone make me feel sick when stated so objectively and clearly by you.

My other rage was at how close our lives were – I bought ice-creams at Kleyweg while your mom was working there; I also went to embarrassed church gatherings where we tried to bridge the gaps (and I honour the Anglican and RC churches for keeping their congregations mixed ); I shopped in Wynberg Main Rd; I became politically aware at about the same time you did….etc. In any normal society we would probably have met each other and been good friends, but there was this unbridgeable chasm between us, not of our making. Thank God, we can meet now!

I was very encouraged by your comment that it was a little bit helpful when the UCT students began to protest too. I was deeply involved with NUSAS at the time that Steve Biko was head of SASO and he came to one of our conferences and dismissed us as dilettante protesters – which I think we were, by his standards but I’m glad to hear it wasn’t all valueless.

I so look forward to more posts and books from you. I think this is a book which should be read and honoured. So well done! And I am personally so pleased that your children and grandchildren grew up in a different society.

 

Mercia Adonis, Cape Town

I read your book in less than a day. I never really understood how bad apartheid was and how people suffered at the hands of the government. Your book has given me a better understanding of what took place. I cannot put into words the emotions that came into play while reading about the hardship, loss of a sibling and continuous uprooting of your life. I truly wish more people would write books like this where others would be made to understand what apartheid was! To those that say let bygones be bygones and want to troll your Facebook page, what are they trying to hide?? The truth will out!

 

Kandice Tommy, Western Australia 

I read your book in less than a day. I never really understood how bad apartheid was and how people suffered at the hands of the government. Your book has given me a better understanding of what took place. I cannot put into words the emotions that came into play while reading about the hardship, loss of a sibling and continuous uprooting of your life. I truly wish more people would write books like this where others would be made to understand what apartheid was! To those that say let bygones be bygones and want to troll your Facebook page, what are they trying to hide?? The truth will out!

Charles Abrahams, Cape Town

Just finished reading your book. Got a copy from Lionel Maxim. I am recovering from colon cancer and completed reading it in a day. Really got very nostalgic as most of the places you speak about no longer exists and are from my era. Eg Goldfinger, Beverley, La Fiesta etc. My wife has been working for city housing for 35 years and when she started in the 80’s, she worked with the same Mrs/miss Demes you mention early on in the book. Thoroughly enjoyable read and looking forward to your next one.

Carmen Hector Adams, Western Australia 

Beryl, thank you for writing your story and sharing it with the world, thanks for the trip down memory lane, thanks for invoking so many memories and feelings reminding me of days long gone by. I found myself constantly trying to remember what I was doing at the time of some of the events in your life, you lived to tell the tale 🙂 , last but not least thanks to your family for allowing you to tell their story too….. awesome achievement, congratulations!!

Hazel Oliver, Cape Town

Beryl Crosher-Segers, I just finished your book, A Darker Shade of Pale at 21:54, smiling because I always say I’m not Coloured, I’m South African. Living for the day when we don’t have to worry about race classification. I could relate to so much…Lacy lilting lady, ruby throated sparrow…I also loved playing my late Uncle Leslie’s LP’s especially Crosby, Stills & Nash. He was my father figure. Keep your father’s memories alive as I missed out on mine. Proud of what you and your family have accomplished. Looking forward to meeting you, upset because I could not get to one of your launches. Will give my book to Toni to read as there’s so much thought provoking episodes in and it’s important that the current generation know where we come from and what we had endured under Apartheid.

Thank you for giving me a new lease on my life, I didn’t want to finish the book 📙 as it took me back to my yesteryear.

Natalie Waser, Sydney

A Darker Shade of Pale is a fascinating, personal journey of Beryl’s upbringing in tenuous South Africa. The narrative is very vivid, capturing detailed memoirs that allows the reader to empathise and relate to the conditions experienced. Very well written – highly recommended!

Zarina Hassiem, Sydney

Beryl, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your book through tears and some good laughs. Thank you for sharing your story. It definitely brought back some very deep emotions of apartheid. I loved the ending …. an emotional and heartfelt letter to your Dad �. Congratulations and well done �

Alup Selou, Sydney

The struggle against apartheid can be typified as the pitting of remembering against  forgetting.” – Nelson Mandela (1998)[extract from In The Words of Nelson Mandela, Profile Books, 2010]
Beryl Crosher-Seger’s debut release embellishes this very theme. At her initial book launch (gleebooks, Sydney), she stated unreservedly that she did not hold back. She expresses the desire for her words to inform ‘the new South African’ of the daily restrictions imposed on their lives under apartheid, the bloodied decades, and how that era shaped their homelands today.
I first met Beryl at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in Sydney. We had forged a friendship through music over Facebook. I only learned of her underlying dream to be a writer – sometime after a midnight posting last year – when she commented about her writer’s block and a looming publication date. That too has passed and this achievement is yet another lotus moment in which I share her incredible ‘heart’ journey – the launch of her first book.
She shares her experience through the eyes of her family. The memoir opens with her first impressions of Australia, albeit a shattered hope of escaping the apartheid regime. The Cape Flats community perspective, has never before been published in Australia. It could be considered a ‘new migrant’ story, the themes intermingled awkwardly with the joy of family members reuniting.
A swathe of apartheid history, has been sung or written in the contemporary world from the ‘black’ perspective, while the ‘coloured’ context remains somewhat of a mystery – more free than the categorised ‘black’ peoples but not as free as the ‘white’ quarters. The very language is disturbing for any reader. Yet the dynamics of her family interaction, losses, trials and tribulations of moving house and country align with many Australian arrival stories.
A journalist once quipped: why did Keith Reid (songwriter of A Whiter Shade of Pale) not write “A Darker Shade of Tan?”
As a brown-skinned child raised by an Anglo-Australian family, I honestly thought I was white for the first seven years of my life. I had no idea that I could be perceived differently from my fair-skinned brothers. The book title resonated with me immediately.
“A Darker Shade of Pale” harks back to the era of that song, inspiring a play on words to create a meaningful title. Yet thousands of miles south of that music world, the song lyrics were markedly different. The songs were cries for freedom, release from pain and imposed boundaries.
This is the musical world which surrounds the much younger Beryl. In Australia, we might more readily recognise the voices of Miriam Makeba or Hugh Masekela in exile.
Beryl’s memoir is the fresh voice of a South African migrant in exile. It was perhaps uncanny timing that Beryl’s work was accepted for publication in the wake of Masekela’s demise. The freedom story continues while the ink dries – never forget. And like a song, once released, the published work moves with its audience.
Beryl invites you on a journey that reflects not just her own voice, but echoes her family’s impression: her mother and father – especially his sporting and political radio obsessions – with their respective family heritage, her siblings and their housing estate community neighbours in the Cape Flats.
Her writing encapsulates their environment on the ‘non-white’ side of the railway tracks. The story unapologetically reveals another side of segregation: administrative ‘shades’ of humankind. Or perhaps, not so kind.
While her story revolves around the growing family and their subsequent migration to Australia, it is wrapped within the history of South Africa’s struggle for development as a nation and a meaningful identity.
Beryl tells a poignant tale of her revelations as a youngster in a world driven by political turmoil, firstly through her father’s eyes, and emerging from the innocence of a child, into an informed, defiant young woman.
She speaks of another world of South Africans affected by segregation, the suppressed anger and the impact of that oppression. Beryl’s story fills a niche, presenting another wedge in the story of South Africa’s displaced peoples – firstly displaced from their ancestral communities, then displaced again from their family homes in the Cape settlements before uprooting and fleeing to distant shores.
It wasn’t until the family arrived in Australia that she expresses their lack of a unifying flag and anthem. This underlying theme purveys a personal struggle for claiming identity.
And what of the communities? The clergy, the educators, the employers, the neighbours.
Beryl also reveals their voice as the Crosher family are swept into decisions not entirely their own, yet survive with the support of these community cornerstones.
She brings everyday scenes to life, describing how segregation administered every part of their life, sometimes numbing for the reader or, at unexpected moments, engendering change.
She recounts a vivid example as a young parent, where the hospital instructs its doctors where they can or can’t treat their “coloured” child. The doctor carries out his professional duties in a “white” ward, despite staff protests.
Another recollection describes an identification numbering system, which I found akin to numbered tattoos of the holocaust or middle-Asia caste systems. Expect Beryl’s writing to take you through the full gamut of emotions: anger, sadness, the euphoria of young love, and a depth of courage that only arises as the writer’s world seemingly crumbles.
It gives the reader a strong sense of hope for securing a better life, which may resonate with contemporary Australians from all backgrounds.
Beryl’s “Long Flight To Freedom” in the 1980’s has captured the voice of South Africans who may have felt they were just that darker shade of pale. It ends with a compassionate letter of hope to her late father.
I would hope that her new release goes beyond altruistic notion or insular scepticism, and reminds any Australian reader that the lucky country, really is, still very lucky.