Don't ask me why, but when I bought this book ($10 at the guild second hand bookshop), suffice to say I was less than enamoured with it. For some reason, I looked at it and it seemed thick; the other thing that struck me was that it seemed like a depressing French book. Is that just me being culturally ignorant about the name Andre? Perhaps. More than perhaps. I kept thinking about it along the same vein as the book Perfume. How stupid I was.
The Rights of Desire is a charming, deep novel set in South Africa, around the time of Mandela's long walk to freedom. I think the historical setting tells you a lot about the tone of the book; the weight of history hangs low throughout the lives of the protagonists, and the sadness and futility of the way they live their lives immediately puts me on their side even though the things that they have done, and continue to do I sometimes find reprehensible.
Although by the final section I found that I could predict what was going to happen, for the first time this was right. There really was only one correct way to end this book, and the fact that Brink chose to end the book the way I would have had him end it (albeit not a happy ending, but what is these days?) was heartily satisfying.
Please, please read this book. Maybe then you might understand why I read it in cars, at parks, in bed, out by the pool and every other place I went. This book, to be sentimental, was a friend to me.