Author: Fiona Snyckers
Publisher: Modjaji Books
Year of publication: 215
Number of pages: 306
Genre: Fiction, thriller
In Now Following You, Jamie Burchell is a hotel trained woman in her late twenties who lives in a Johannesburg suburb and co-owns a popular café/eatery called Delucia with former schoolmate Pumla Maseko. By day she works hard at ensure that she gives her best to the eatery; by night however she is a writer working to get a book deal. Having been rejected by publishers in the past she had decided that she will use social media, one of her passions, to build traction for her work. She does this by posting daily blogs which feature new chapters of her upcoming novel. She also lives her life on social media posting everything that she does on different channels many times a day.
She is living this idyllic life with the hope of a better day when it all changes. Yes, men are at the centre of it all. Her next door neighbour Tom Watson injects himself into her life via his toddler Ben who had wondered onto the street when she rescued the child taking him home. Tom is what I would probably call the typical brooding hero of your typical Mills and Boon / Harlequin novel. Extremely attractive, strong, can handle himself in a fight while still being a sensitive soul. He even has the famous mood swings you would expect from those formulaic novels as he goes extremely friendly and charming to nasty and dismissive in turn.
The thing that saves this book from being quickly thrown in the pile to be sent off to my twenty year old niece is the other man that comes into our Jamie’s life. He is an unnamed stalker who uses Fouly Wooing Won as an online name which turns out to be an anagram of “Now Following You.” Fouly goes on to make her life a living hell following her first on her social media and then in real life. Jamie’s experiences with ol’ Fouly become so nasty they get noted in local media and her dream of being discovered as a writer finally come closer and closer.
The novel follows the lives of these three characters all speaking the first person at points in the book with strong supporting characters, Toms’s toddler Ben and Jamie’s business partner Pumla, till its unlikely climax.
The first thing I love about this book? The sex. I know that is a bit shady in some minds but I love reading a good shag in a book as much as the next guy and the sex scenes, while not many, are extremely hot. There was a scene that had me quite hot and bothered (I can’t tell you or I will be blamed for giving spoilers in my reviews) that you can read this book just for.
Apart from that which I always seek, this was a wonderfully written book with easy to read prose that left me hanging on till the very end. She writes her characters of all races as being very believable; I know people who are exactly like the social media obsessed Jamie and her business partner Pumla here in Nairobi. These folks broadcast all their thoughts on their social media timelines without worrying about the consequences. One of these fellows is such an over sharer that thieves broke into his home when he shared as usual that he was out on the town with his friends.
The matter of stalking was an interesting one as it’s not a matter you will see in my neck of the woods. I don’t know many stalking victims or rather people who are able to afford to hang about looking through someone’s timelines and then dedicate their lives to follow someone to this extent. I suspect but I could be wrong but this fellow stalking Jamie and showing up at random hours mustn’t have a regular job but is sustained by someone else. After all where would one get the time to follow one person’s every single move as they broadcast it?
One quibble. They bring up the fact that there is one of their neighbours who is obsessed with surveillance and therefore has a cameras going out on the street then just as it is mentioned it is forgotten. Why bring it up in the first place if it is not going to be used eventually? Some of us were waiting through this time to see his images coming into play… or was this just a literary technique to lead us astray? I will never know.
Also the end was a bit of an anticlimax for this reader. That’s all I want to say about that.
P.S. The twitter account of the protagonist in this tale is @jamieburchell. Guess what? There is an actual @jamieburchell on the web not related to the book. Just saying.