Friday, July 26, 2013
A Spear of Summer Grass
3.5 stars out of 5 - Sometimes you just need to go "all in..."
This novel provided a predicament for me: how to rate a book whose main character I totally despised while absolutely loving the way the author brought Africa in the 1920s to life on the page.
Delilah Drummond is banished to Kenya in 1923 when her scandalous behavior becomes too notorious even for her socially prominent family. She arrives at Fairlight, owned by her favorite stepfather, to find it crumbling under the weight of neglect. Accompanied by Dora, her cousin and erstwhile chaperone/maid, she is overwhelmed first of all by the sheer savageness of the savannah and secondly by the natives who have learned to live in a sort of harmony with the land and the animals there. As she acclimates herself to her exile, she slowly begins to find that Africa has become her lover and ultimately finds her soul. And her soulmate of course. There's a predictable romance with a stereotypical alpha male, Ryder White, and a series of events that cement their relationship, but the main appeal of this story is Africa. Its harshness, beauty, and circle of life are all laid out in vividly written descriptions that made me want to go off on safari and discover it all for myself just as it was then.
Now back to Delilah. The author attempts to imbue her with some saving characteristics as expected, but I never developed anything approaching identification for the various parts she played in the dramas that developed over the course of her stay at Fairlight. Other characters provided only secondary roles to the wonders of the lushness and complexity of the central focus of the book: Africa itself. So despite the fact that I detested Delilah and that she never redeemed herself in my eyes despite the author's attempts to make it so, I really ended up liking the book for what it was -- a lovingly depicted portrait of a land out of time, suffused with danger and extremes, and worthy of fighting for.
I recommend it!
Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin MIRA for a copy of the ebook to review.