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The Ghosts of Eden [Paperback]

Andrew JH Sharp
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

21 May 2009
This is a superb epic about love, medicine and cultural identities with a huge African and European cast which concludes on the shores of the Indian ocean. Michael Lacey, the child of missionaries, and Zachye Katura, tending cattle for his father in the grasslands of Kaaro Karungi, are happy in their childhood idyll. However, the world around them is changing, propelling them towards tragedy. Haunted by grief and guilt, they grow up severed from their families and ancestral heritage. When they both fall for the same enigmatic woman they must face their past and hear their ancestors if they are to make their way in the modern world. This is a cross-cultural, cross-racial love story with a spectacular East African setting and contemporary worldwide themes of the effects of rapid cultural change.

Product details

  • Paperback: 371 pages
  • Publisher: Picnic Publishing Ltd (21 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0955861330
  • ISBN-13: 978-0955861338
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 510,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Writer and medical doctor living in the UK. Has also worked in East Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

The Ghosts of Eden won the 2010 Waverton Good Read Award 2010 and was listed by Ann Widdecombe as one of her top five books on childhood innocence. It was shortlisted for the 2011 International Rubery Book Award.

Fortunate, released in July 2013, is set in Zimbabwe.

Website: www.andrewjhsharp.co.uk

Product Description


'The delight is in the detail of this book. It brought to me pictures of Uganda and that feeling you always had there of life beyond this life, whispering, beckoning, interfering. Reality and myths reinforce each other as the title suggests and you are left feeling the vulnerability of humanity' --Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

'This deeply moving book will leave you thoughtful for long after you have read it' --Ann Widdecombe MP

'Grips the reader. A stunningly haunting debut' --Lesley Mason, the Book Bag

From the Publisher

Picnic is delighted to be publishing Andrew Sharp's first novel for several reasons including the fact there is plenty of post-colonial fiction set in India but not so much set in Africa. Andrew's epic contributes to and sets a standard for what is becoming a growing trend.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book with an African setting 15 Jun 2009
By Jackie
The Ghosts of Eden follows the lives of two children growing up in Uganda. Micheal is the child of missionaries and the book begins with him battling against claustrophobia on his first flight back to Uganda since he left to study medicine. He is finally distracted from his fear, when the passenger in the seat next to him dies.

Zachye lives in rural Uganda, where he helps his brother, Stanley, look after the family's cattle. Zachye's father dreams of a better life for his sons, and so arranges for them to be sent to school. The book touches on how the introduction of technology to the country changes their lives. Their observations of new objects were fascinating to me, and I loved seeing them learn how to use things which we take for granted.

The first half of the book concentrates on the lives of the two very different boys growing up in East Africa, and is one of the best pieces of writing about life as a child I have seen. I was captivated by their innocent view of the world, and loved their childish banter. The author perfectly captures the minds of the two boys, and to be able to do this convincingly with two completely different cultures is an outstanding achievement.

The Ghosts of Eden also reveals much about the superstitions and spirit world of the African people. Although I have read a few books which have contained this subject before (most notably Ben Okri's The Famished Road) This is the first book in which I have been made to understand their belief system, and not just been confused by it.

Unfortunately, the book goes downhill a bit in the middle section. The lives of the boys as adults did not interest me anywhere near as much as that of their childhood.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Boys on the Edge 22 Nov 2009
This was one of my year's best summer reads: the kind of good thick book you can nestle into. It is a wonderfully lyrical novel set in Africa. The early sections depict two worlds that overlap in the lush landscape of colonial Uganda; the childhood of Stanley, an 8 year-old cattle-herder, and the childhood of Michael Lacey, son of missionaries.

There is a sense of each being a closed world vividly experienced - yet each is doomed by modernity pressing on its edges. The boys are both engaging heroes, similarly shy, loyal, deeply sensitive. For me the depiction of Bahima nomadic culture as the herd boys follow out the rituals of their daily lives was utterly enchanting and convincing. We see through their eyes the strangeness of Bazungu (European) behaviour as they encounter white people for the first time. We feel the jolt of that meeting and fear for them as they face exile from their own people with the prospect of boarding school.

The author, like his characters, then takes a rather brave step. We jump forward some 30 years to find Michael as an adult on a plane to Uganda for a 3 day conference. Another jolt. The adult is entirely disassociated from his past, the child's vulnerability buried in the clinical efficiency of a gifted surgeon (here Sharpe draws on his own experience as a medical practitioner.) Uganda is still raw from the trauma of Idi Amin's rule and its legacy. But the past griefs that threaten to engulf Michael take more time to surface. Inevitably, the paths of the Bahima and the Bazungu now cross.

It turns out this is very much Michael's story and I missed the chance to explore Stanley's point of view in this second half. I was too emotionally invested in the Bahima characters by then to want to see them only from the outside.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You must read this 24 May 2009
I have just finished Andrew Sharp's debut book and I would summarize it as "As enchanting as Alexander McCall Smith, giving deep insights into the African mind, only much more complex, challenging and satisfying". I was moved to tears by this story which was especially significant to me, evoking memories of my colonial African childhood and having recently visited a Masai kraal. True to life is the phrase.

I was especially struck by the description of the evolution of faith from the childlike understanding of the young Michael to the much more realistic and battered dawning of understanding in the adult Michael at the end. Very gritty and very real - I would go so far as to liken it to William Young's The Shack - the other great book I have read recently.

I would thoroughly recommend this book - especially to Third Culture Kids and anyone else in love with Africa. I am looking forward to a sequel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ghosts of Eden 3 July 2009
My 'Best Africa Read'

In the early stages of the story, the reader is given a wonderfully intuitive journey through the looking glass into the East Africa of the 1950's - 60's, which is then set against the days of the harsh post - Idi Amin years. The world and it's values seen through the eyes of the two native brothers, Stanley, and Zachye, first as children and then men, contrast sharply with the European upbringing of Michael Lacey. Felice the woman who brings their cultures together also cleverly accentuates the divide between them.
Beautifully written,this is a story of ancient and immutable values in a land essentially immune to change, and reflects Andrew Sharp's impeccable credentials as an authority on the subject.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant descriptive talent
As you read the childhood memories of two Ugandan boys and of Michael, a European born in Uganda, and then pass on to adult life when Michael, a surgeon now, returns to Uganda, you... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Claire van Velsen
2.0 out of 5 stars The ghosts of eden
I expected a factual book of Uganda, not a novel so was very disappointed think the novels should be kept separate from factual books to avoid confusion
Published 13 months ago by Mrs J Richards
5.0 out of 5 stars The ecological Eden of Uganda
This novel is written from a white perspective; but one that obviously values the cultural beauty and wisdom of the African people. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Anna Pollard
3.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff
This was recommended to me by a famous ghost writer - and I wasnt disappointed. A refreshing read, reminding me of life in East Africa,and an absorbing story of interaction between... Read more
Published on 10 Jan 2011 by jlbwye
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ghosts of Eden
This is great first novel from Andrew Sharp.
Initially set in Uganda in the 1960's we are treated to a fascinating insight into the childhoods of three very different... Read more
Published on 9 Oct 2009 by Neil Morris
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Characters
I really enjoyed this book. Some great characters and some really good contrasts - between the african bush people and western people and between religious and non-religious... Read more
Published on 20 Sep 2009 by T. Murfet
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