During the waning years of the British Empire, a young woman returns to her father’s Kenyan farm after boarding school in England only to find home is no longer the safe, happy place she recalls.
Rachel Fullsmith lost her mother when she was only 12, on the same day she witnessed violence at her uncle’s factory during a strike. Having grown up on her parents’ farm in the African bush, she never felt at home in England, where her bereaved father sent her after her mother's death. As soon as she finishes school, she returns to Kenya but finds another woman living in her father’s home and all the familiar routines of the farm upended both by her pseudo-stepmother’s rigid—and racist—views and by the terror of the nascent Mau Mau rebellion. Torn between the memory of her once-loving home and the trauma and loss she and the people she knew as a child have experienced, Rachel tries to understand the political and social circumstances that have altered her world. McVeigh (The Fever Tree, 2013) creates real emotional tension as Rachel tries to hang on to all that reminds her of her mother. Will she reconnect with her father? Can she grow to accept, if not love, his new family? Will treating black Kenyans with the kindness her mother taught her put Rachel in harm’s way? Will the man she saw murder a striker on the day she learned of her mother’s death become as great a threat to Rachel as the Mau Mau? All of this is set against Rachel’s growing attraction to Michael, her former tutor and her father’s employee, and the danger of their forbidden relationship.
Readers who want a story that keeps them on edge will enjoy this historical novel rich with emotional and sociopolitical drama.