None to Accompany Me is a novel by South African author Nadine Gordimer. It explores the relations between politics and how people conduct their personal lives. The book parallels the lives of two families, the Starks and the Maqomas. Vera Stark, the main character, rises in politics and becomes estranged from her husband in the process of her ascent. Sibongile Maqoma also rises to political prominence, but she remains with her husband in spite of the strains that were caused by her surpassing him politically. Through these stories, Gordimer gives us an intimate look at how politics and power affect personal relationships.
The events of the novel aren't entirely true; they did not all factually happen. However, the novel speaks to a broader truth about the human condition. It deals with the issues of what it means to be both in a relationship and pursuing a career. Through the characters's actions, we're able to feel what it would be like to find ourselves in a situation like the ones that they encounter. Gordimer shows us two different ways of dealing with these tensions. She allows us to see how each path plays out so that we can reflect on how we would handle a similar situation in our own life.
Really, this reflection is the purpose of art. It gives us the opportunity to learn about life without actually having to experience every scenario the world can throw at us. When something in a story didn't actually happen, it doesn't mean that it's pure fantasy. Instead, we as readers are meant to carefully consider the situation and imagine how we would handle it. Art challenges us to move beyond our preconceived notions about who we are, our place in the world, and where we're going. Fiction or nonfiction, there's something we can learn from every story.