Three women's land battle

2008-02-01 00:00

THIS book is set in the sixties, the first years of Kenya's independence, as the country grapples with many of the issues that have beset South Africa in the past 12 years - how to build a multicultural society, what to do about burgeoning greed and corruption, and, most of all, how to reconcile a violent past with hope for the future.

Three young women, friends since childhood, are at the core of the tale. Hannah, with her husband Lars, is struggling to hang on to the family farm, Langani, where a series of vicious attacks threaten their security. Sarah is studying elephant behaviour in an area made dangerous by armed poachers, using her work as a way to cope with the horror of the brutal murder of her fiancé Piet, Hannah's brother, at Langani. Camilla, a successful international model, is torn between her love for a philandering safari guide, and her career and a safer, more stable romance option in London.

On the anniversary of Piet's death, the violent destruction of a sewing workshop that Camilla has established on Langani makes them realise that whoever was behind his murder is still out to destroy the rest of them. With the help of an ambitious Indian journalist, an old mission priest and a police officer who is a family friend, they gradually uncover the horrific truth about Langani's past and why it is still haunting them.

This is an epic novel with lots of sub-plots and peripheral characters and it would have been improved by tighter editing and a trim. The authors are sisters and I was aware of two styles of writing, one more accomplished than the other. But these are minor gripes and it is still a good read if you have the time to curl up the couch with a thick book.

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