On February 21, the Libraries’ featured author Lynette Brasfield in a program about her thought-provoking novel, Nature Lessons: A Novel. The event was held at the Corona del Mar home of Doreen Hamburger, who provided a lovely luncheon for thirty guests that included Library Partners and friends. Published in 2003, Nature Lessons tells the compelling story of a woman who returns to South Africa during the late nineties in search of her missing, elderly mother. In the course of her journey, she uncovers the truth at the heart of her mother’s long-held paranoid beliefs, as well as other family secrets.
Rooted in Brasfield’s own childhood experiences, the novel is set against the volatile climate of apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa, the beauty of its land, and the diversity of its people.
Brasfield talked about her background and the forces that led her to write Nature Lessons. She also described the intersection between fact and fiction in her book. “Most events didn’t occur exactly the way they are presented, some are pure invention, and others have been transformed in one way or another with the application of research and imagination. My character does things I wish I’d done, and some that I’m glad I didn’t do,” she said. “Writing a novel is a great way to explore the ‘what ifs’ of one’s life, in my view.”
Born in South Africa in the fifties, and now an American citizen, Brasfield earned a B.A. degree at Rhodes University in the Cape and a graduate degree in English Literature at Natal University. In 1985, she moved to the United States and now lives in Irvine with her husband and two sons. She is at work on her second novel, No Stranger Than Angels, which is set in Zimbabwe during the War of Liberation.
Library Partner Doreen Hamburger, who is active in a variety of community organizations, was pleased to host the luncheon for the Libraries. “I enjoy promoting local authors and sharing the important mission of the Libraries with fellow community members," she said.