Set in colonial Rhodesia, Tsitsi Dangarembga's novel chronicles the beginning of Tambudzai's new life after her brother's untimely death leaves the way open for her to acquire an education.
Coming from poverty, Tambudzai's shot at gaining a much-desired education relies on chance and the benevolence of her greatly revered, educated uncle, who believes that someone in every branch of his family should have an education to help allieviate the poverty endured by the rest. However, Tambudzai's initial desire to expand her horizons brings its own challenges and contradictions with it, best illustrated through the person of her cousin Nyasha, whose Westernised behaviour is increasingly regarded as unbecoming of a girl.
Although this is at times quite a heavy read, desribing in some detail the lives of rural African women around their often incompetent but ever superior men-folk, and despite the fact that it has a very unsatisfactory ending, this remains a very thoughtful and insightful book. There are so few African novels about women, that it is refreshing to read about often unseen characters. Although you are constantly aware of their second-class status within their families, schools and society at large, this is engaging and quietly gripping and I'm left feelng that there should be more to come of Tambudzai's story.