Tiny Sunbirds Far Away by Christie Watson

About the book

‘Everything changed after Mama found Father lying on top of another woman.’  Blessing and her brother Ezikiel adore their larger-than-life father, their glamorous mother and their comfortable life in Lagos. But all that changes when their father leaves them for another woman.  Their mother is fired from her job at the Royal Imperial Hotel – only married women can work there – and soon they have to quit their air-conditioned apartment to go and live with their grandparents in a compound in the Niger Delta. Adapting to life with a poor countryside family is a shock beyond measure after their privileged upbringing in Lagos.  Told in Blessing’s own beguiling voice, Tiny Sunbirds Far Away shows how some families can survive almost anything. At times hilarious, always poignant, occasionally tragic, it is peopled with characters you will never forget.

 

Reviewed by Stubbington Book Ends

An enjoyable read and a good balance between the humour and reality of life in this African country, with wonderful characterisation”

star rating ****

 

Read this book

Request to borrow a reading book set

http://www3.hants.gov.uk/borrow-book-sets.htm

A Tramp in Africa by David Lessels

About the book

Follow the trails of the Scottish explorer, David Lessels, fulfilling a dream to travel the length of Africa, confronting serious challenges to his freedom as he walked and hitch-hiked through history, in the early 1950s. Recalled with vivid clarity, this inspirational traveller’s tale is studded with gems and facts – some of which may be the only written accounts of the early development of unique African cultures. This is a colorful and rich taste of Africa in the raw – share the author’s thrilling experiences of an extraordinary adventure.

 

Reviewed by Hill Head Readers

“A travelogue which was far too long. It was quite well written but our group were defeated!”

star rating * ½

 

Read this book

Request to borrow a reading book set

http://www3.hants.gov.uk/borrow-book-sets.htm

The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing

About the book

Mary Turner is a self-confident, independent young woman who becomes the depressed, frustrated wife of an ineffectual, unsuccessful farmer. Little by little the ennui of years on the farm work their slow poison, and Mary’s despair progresses until the fateful arrival of an enigmatic and virile black servant, Moses. Locked in anguish, Mary and Moses — master and slave — are trapped in a web of mounting attraction and repulsion. Their psychic tension explodes in an electrifying scene that ends this disturbing tale of racial strife in colonial South Africa.
The Grass Is Singing blends Lessing’s imaginative vision with her own vividly remembered early childhood to recreate the quiet horror of a woman’s struggle against a ruthless fate.

Reviewed by Godshill WI Reading Group:

All our members “enjoyed” this book, despite its unremitting misery : it was compulsive reading. One member, correctly we think, saw it as a metaphor for the – then – future of Rhodesia.

Star rating : ***

Read the book

Request to borrow a reading group set

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

About the book

Barbara Kingsolver’s acclaimed international bestseller tells the story of an American missionary family in the Congo during a poignant chapter in African history. It spins the tale of the fierce evangelical Baptist, Nathan Price, who takes his wife and four daughters on a missionary journey into the heart of darkness of the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them to Africa all they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it – from garden seeds to the King James Bible – is calamitously transformed on African soil. Told from the perspective of the five women, this is a compelling exploration of African history, religion, family, and the many paths to redemption.

Reviewed by Queen Mary’s College Library Reading Group

Most of the group thought this was a wonderful novel, one of the most powerful and thought-provoking we’d read in ages. It was hard to get into, but soon you were swept along by the rhythm of the narrative recounted by the women of an American family caught up in the post-colonial world of the former Belgian Congo. Highly recommended.
Star rating ****

The Other Hand by Chris Cleave

About the book

We don’t want to tell you too much about this book. It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it. Nevertheless, you need to know something, so we will just say this: It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific. The story starts there, but the book doesn’t. And it’s what happens afterwards that is most important. Once you have read it, you’ll want to tell everyone about it. When you do, please don’t tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds.

Reviewed by Enjoying Books Reading Group:

This is a beautifully written book yet very challenging as it deals with the horrors in Nigeria and immigration culture in the country. Moments of humour and great insight into human relationships.

Star rating: ***+

Read the book

Request to borrow a reading group set
 
 
 

Mukiwa by Peter Godwin

About the book

Peter Godwin grew up in Rhodesia in the 1960s, dimly aware of the divisions that would lead to civil war. This book tells of the guerilla killings, Godwin’s conscription into the army aged 17, and his return to Zimbabwe as a reporter for the “Sunday Times” after studying law in England.

Reviewed by Goodworth Clatford WI reading group:

Excellent book. Really brought home the present problems. Educational. Well written; Group will read follow-up books.

Star rating: ****

Read the book

Request to borrow a reading group set
 
 
 

Blood River by Tim Butcher

About the book

When Daily Telegraph correspondent Tim Butcher was sent to cover Africa in 2000 he quickly became obsessed with the idea of recreating H.M. Stanley’s famous expedition – but travelling alone. Despite warnings that his plan was ‘suicidal’, Butcher set out for the Congo’s eastern border with just a rucksack and a few thousand dollars hidden in his boots. Making his way in an assortment of vessels including a motorbike and a dugout canoe, helped along by a cast of characters from UN aid workers to a campaigning pygmy, he followed in the footsteps of the great Victorian adventurers. Butcher’s journey was a remarkable feat, but the story of the Congo, told expertly and vividly in this book, is more remarkable still.

Reviewed by Lymington U3A Group 2:

Educational, enlightening, gripping – insightful to Congo history.

Star rating: ****
 

Read the book

Request to borrow a reading group set