Mr Brink's novel is set during the last days preceding the violence which broke out in South Africa and brought the apartheid regime to an end. The time span in "Rumours of Rain" is exactly three days, starting from Friday and extending to Monday, an "apocalyptic" week end for Martin Mynhardt during which he is going to lose not only his farm but more importantly so his wife Elise, his daughter Ilse and his son Louis. What the nature of this loss is should not be disclosed here for the sake of those who haven't read the novel yet. But Mr Brink remarkably shows how a successful businessman - Martin is the chairman of the Mining Chamber of the Afrikaans Institute of Commerce, so he has, in his own words, "reached the top" - can irremediably ruin his relationship with his family and put his career at risk because of certain choices he made in the past. Mynhardt acknowledges this in the questions he asks at the last page of the novel: "Does one inevitably become the victim of one's own paradoxes in the end?"
As Martin drives to his farm with his son Louis - hardly any conversation is possible between son and father since Louis was sent to fight in Angola - to convince his mother to sell it, he recollects the many acquaintances he had, the love affairs, his professional success. Many questions are posed in the novel, particularly those concerning the political situation in South Africa during the apartheid. Can any changes be brought about peacefully? What should the position of the White man be after so many years of discrimination, oppression and humiliation imposed on the Black peoples? Should one approve of any violent forms of action through which one can prove one's solidarity with the oppressed masses?
"Rumours of Rain" is a very complex and powerful novel - the descriptions of townships like Soweto are literally breathtaking - like the continent in which it is set.