Top critical review
A jolly good read about life in Kenya in the 1960s
on 12 July 2013
This is a well-written story with three female lead characters, supported by an interesting cast of family, friends and colleagues. Over the years of the story, the characters evolve in credible ways as a function of their life experiences and effects of the different environments in Kenya and Britain. The story is well-written, the natural world is beautifully described, and the various action episodes are gripping, but the finale is disappointing for its improbability. I felt that the authors just got tired of writing and decided to bring everything to a screeching close, hence the 3-star rating.
Areas of weakness (beyond the denouement) include the overly drawn-out tension in the first third of the book as the leitmotiv is established. This tension drags on until details of the personal tragedy are finally revealed.
While one of the key themes is how individuals deal with misfortune and personal tragedy, toward the last third of the book I was beginning to get bored with the "next big disaster" to befall each of the three protagonists. Needless to say, the denouement defies belief, invoking two more disasters whose timing and consequences stretch credibility to its limit. This improbable conclusion undermines all that goes before.
Having grown up in Britain in the swinging 60s, I found the depiction of attitudes, values, and interactions between men and women, classes, and races to be faithful portrayals of the time. It is interesting to reflect how far we have progressed since that time when young men never questioned their right to tell their wives how to behave in public (Lars and Hannah), when women felt guilty about being successful professionals, and when whites were completely unaware of the perniciousness of what was called the "color bar." Thank God for the equality and non-discrimination of modern times.
At first I was doubtful about a co-authored novel, but the delivery was seamless, with many memorable pieces of evocative writing and consistency of tone throughout the work. I am now ready to read more by B. and S. Keating.