Herewith the review of this book, which i finished a little while ago now.
One of the ‘Rose and Crown’ series, published by Sunpenny, concerns a young Scottish woman who is required to take her aunt’s ashes to South Africa – very much against her wishes. Not only does she not want to leave her fascinating research work in Scotland, but she didn’t like the aunt very much. What concerns her most of all, though, is that the trip will involve meeting her parents from whom she is estranged. Bought a flight with many connections by her cheap-skate sister, she finds herself stranded at Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, where she meets the amazing Jacobs family, who have problems of their own, particularly dark and edgy Caleb.
Sunpenny celebrates Christian fiction and works which are uplifting. Even though the ‘Rose and Crown’ is not specifically a Christian imprint, we see Amanda, the mc, wrestling with her faith in a way that is thoughtful and without sentimentality. There is no ‘Alleluia, I’ve seen Jesus’ moment. It is this incremental development of Amanda’s belief which constitutes the main plot, although there are many, many sub-plots and lots and lots of characters, some of whom (like the Jacobs grandparents) have a pivotal role for a chapter or two then disappear. From a literary point of view, there were aspects of the plot that were unsatisfactory – for instance, the parents’ reasons for absenting themselves from their son and daughters’ lives – but this sort of situation reflects real life, not what happens in books. “I’d rather get all this off my chest now, at the beginning of my visit, than pretend everything is okay until the last day of my stay,” says Amanda to her parents, towards the end of the book. Ho-hum. I think she’s talking about everybody’s family there!
This is a story which touches upon a lot of issues in modern society, anorexia, conservation, poverty and corruption in Zimbabwe, and the author has the honesty not to make any of her characters ‘resolve’ any of them. This writer, who clearly has wide experience of everyday life in southern Africa, has put it to good use by writing about it in painful detail.
So, do I recommend it? Yes, definitely. It was the characters of Amanda, Caleb and the others who kept me reading, and the hooks which led me to read more so as to find out what happens next.
Here are some more photos from Vietnam, not so good as the last lot, as I’m having problems transferring then from Android phone to Apple iPad.