I just finished reading Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton. I enjoyed the book but I found Paton's writing style very difficult to follow. It was a beautiful and thought provoking book. I learned a lot as I read it. I learned about the history of South Africa but I also learned a lot about myself. I found the story made me think long and hard about the way that society views social classes and the obstacles that are in place to keep each social class in it's place whether one wants to or not.
I will not try to summarize the book for I cannot. It is too deep, too complex for me to do it justice. I will leave that to the literary experts.
I can however, recount what I learned. In addition to what I listed above, I learned a whole new vocabulary. Words like Kumalo, Umfundisi, or Umnumzana are definitely words that I didn't know before reading the book. Not knowing these words was probably part of my difficulty following the story. And, that leads me to the BIGGEST thing that I learned from the book: Read the entire book. I mean the entire book.
In my haste to start the book, I skipped the author's notes at the start of the book. Had I have read this I would have read the following quote: "For the benefit of readers I have appended a list of words at the end of the book, which includes by no means all the strange names and words that are used. But it contains those, a knowledge of the meaning and approximately correct pronunciation of which should add to the reader's enjoyment."
Yeppers, that information would have been helpful. Instead, I only found this list of words after I finished reading the book. So, if this is a book that you are considering reading, please know that there is a very helpful list at the end of the book. I suggest using it as you read the book. It would have been most helpful for me! Don't make the same mistake I made...learn from my mistake!