A Far-Off Place

by Laurens Van der Post

Paperback, 1978



Call number

PB Pos

Call number

PB Pos

Local notes

PB Pos




Mariner Books (1978), 324 pages


The story of a long, perilous journey undertaken by four survivors of a massacre: a teenage boy of European descent, a young white girl, and two Bushmen. The basis for a major film release from Walt Disney Pictures.


Original language


Physical description

324 p.; 5.25 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member Banbury
"A Far Off Place" is located in Africa, but also in the wild yet ordered regions of our own best selves. There is a hero, but he is not self-consciously so. There is a love story, but not a soft one. There is suffering, but it is not maudlin. A boy and his dog are thrust from their Edenic existence
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into a world of violence. They come through their harrowing journey to what is a happy ending--or at least as happy an ending as is possible in a world where the natural order has been upended. From a different point of view, it could be seen as just an horrendous story of loss and hardship; however, because of the heroic nature of the protagonist, we see beauty, strength, and possibilities of salvation.
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LibraryThing member bookwoman247
This is a YA book that was written in the 1970's.

It is a tale of two young white survivors of a massacre in Africa, Francois and Nonnie, and how they escape, survive pursuit, and cross the Kalahari with the help of their good friends, a bushman, Xhabbo andx his wife, Nuin-Tara.

This book is sure to
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satisfy the most extreme armchair adventurer, and also offers interesting doses of philosophy and spirituality.

I got to care very much for the main characters and felt really invested in the outcome of the book. There was a lot of growth in the characters of Francois and Nonnie, while one got tyhe impression that Xhabbo and Nuin-Tara already had life pretty much figured out.
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LibraryThing member DeltaQueen50
A Far Off Place by Laurens Van Der Post is the story of a long and dangerous journey across Africa undertaken by four people who survived a massacre, Francois Joubert whose home farm was the site of the massacre, Nonnie, a young white girl who is a friend and neighbour of Francois and two Bushmen,
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Xhabbo and his wife Nuin-Tara. Much of the way they are being trailed and tracked and it is only once they are in the depths of the Kalahari Desert that they are left alone to make their way to a British port and safety.

This book is also a direct sequel to A Story Like the Wind which told of Francois and his family and how he was raised in this remote northern part of South Africa. These books tell a wonderful story but I did struggle a little with how dense the author’s writing style was and how much of his own personal philosophy he included. The book was originally published in 1974, but the language used makes it seem like a much older book.

The identity of the mercenaries that attack the Joubert homestead are never identified, but there were plenty of upheavals going on in Africa at that time. I suspect the insurrection in Zimbabwe was probably the country of origin, although Namibia, Mozambique and Angola all were problem areas in the early 1970’s.

Overall this is a full-on adventure story with detailed descriptions of the landscape and the wildlife they encountered. Having the Bushmen along with them was, of course, the difference between life and death for these children as Bushmen have been living in the Kalahari Desert for generations. I would say that one doesn’t have to read both books as at the beginning of A Far Off Place there is a recap of the first book. This is an excellent story of survival, friendship and nature.
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LibraryThing member hardlyhardy
We find many great escapes in movies and novels, including “The Great Escape,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Escape from Alcatraz,” “Papillon” and others. But none of those escapees had to walk across a thousand miles of the Kalahari Desert.

Laurens van der Post's stirring 1974 novel
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“A Far Off Place” is a sequel to “A Story Like the Wind,” which concludes with the massacre by Communist-led rebels of everyone living in the vicinity of an African farm called Hunter's Drift except for two teenagers and two Bushmen.

The killers don't know about the Bushmen, Xhabbo and his wife Nuin-Tara, or Nonnie, the girl who had just arrived at Hunter's Drift to join her family, but they do know that Francois somehow escaped death along with his dog Hintza and they must find him before he can report the massacre. And so the chase is on.

Francois may be young, but he is resourceful, having grown up in Africa, and incredibly brave. The Bushmen have lived in the desert all their lives and know how to find food and water where there appears to be none. The weak link is Nonnie, whose surprising strength and endurance make their escape possible.

One adventure follows another, even after their pursuers give up the chase. The final challenge comes when both Nonnie and Xhabbo contract sleeping sickness and have only weeks to live unless they can find help.

Van der Post writes beautifully, although his beautiful language sometimes does have a tendency to slow down the action.
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(39 ratings; 4.2)
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