ONCE TO EVERY MAN by Elizabeth Cain


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Three very different lives intersect against the backdrop of racial and cultural tension in 1960s Africa.

Reena Pavane, a young missionary, is helping spread Christianity to East African natives. One day, she’s pulled out of her village and evacuated via helicopter by the British journalist Jim Stone. Despite numerous obstacles—age difference, Jim’s marriage and his malaria—the two fall in love. When Jim, on an assignment in the jungle, is taken prisoner by militants, Reena follows closely behind to bring him his malaria medication. Dakimu Reiman, a young African, helps her on the journey but finds himself torn between wanting to help Reena and Jim and wanting to hate them because of what white people have done to his fellow Africans. Eventually, Dakimu falls in love with Reena as well, which tears at his conscience further; should he steal Reena from Jim or make her happy by bringing Jim safely out of the jungle? The trials and tribulations that the trio goes through take them across three continents and multiple decades, as they confront their feelings for each other on personal, spiritual and racial levels. The stakes are high, the material heavy and the characters complex; even the good Christian girl Reena, who occasionally seems too sweet, commits a few remorseful actions. Cain conveys her knowledge and passion for her subject, though the novel would benefit from more historical context and detail to enhance the vivid portrait of Africa at a turbulent time in its history.

High-stakes historical fiction that could use more history.

Pub Date: July 18th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1475932478
Page count: 230pp
Publisher: iUniverse
Program: Kirkus Indie
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