Published by Lightning Books on April 26, 2021
A powerful story about race, class, and the clash of generations as two Londoners from utterly different worlds find themselves under the same roof. Flashbacks to the colonial brutality of the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya. Edith, an elderly widow with a large house in an Islington garden square, needs a carer. Lauren, a nail technician born in the East End, needs somewhere to live. A rent-free room in lieu of pay seems the obvious solution, even though the pair have nothing in common. Or do they? Why is Lauren so fascinated by Edith’s childhood in colonial Kenya? Is Paul, the handsome lodger in the basement, the honest broker he appears? And how does Charity, a Kenyan girl brutally tortured during the Mau Mau rebellion, fit into the equation? Capturing the spirited interplay between two women divided by class, generation, and a deeper gulf from the past, and offering vivid flashbacks to 1950s East Africa, Madeline Dewhurst’s captivating debut spins a web of secrets and deceit–where it’s not always obvious who is the spider and who is the fly.
I am going to start by saying this is not my normal type of book that I like to read. Yet, that cover called to me and there was something intriguing about the blurb.
I did find this fascinating and horrifying reading about the Mau Mau uprising and what happened to people that they thought had taken the oath. The events that unfurled were shocking and quite heartbreaking to read.
It was an interesting mix of history and the present day all merging. Secrets as always we know are bad, more so in this book. When the secrets are exposed, some you can guess, are shocking. The awful thing is these things probably did happen, the pain Edith felt as a child growing up with what she witnessed with her friend Mary. The other young girl, Charity, we follow, well her story I would hate for it to be true. Her tale needed to be told and heard but how her journey started broke me and what happened had me squeezing my cushion a bit tighter as some of it was unbearable.
Lauren is young and impressionable when she moves in with Edith. Caring for her in return for free lodging. What seems like an innocent and opportune moment to move into an extravagant house, yet things are never what they seem do they?! I mean we have Paul and Jo to think about too, they all have a role to play in this story whether they are aware of it or not. By the end of the book, Lauren had grown into someone I could get on side with, her morals were in place and she knew the right things to do…in the end. Shame that it can’t be said about all the characters we have met.
This book is hard to pigeon hole into one genre. With the historical and factual side, we also delve into literacy fiction and at times a bit psychological thriller Esq. It has so many different elements which make you wonder if it will work. It does! This a debut, it packs a punch. Maybe have a cushion to cuddle when things get a bit harrowing, it made me hug my mini-me a little bit tighter and be grateful for what I have. I have spent more of this review talking about how Charity made me feel rath than the story or the characters because this book really does make you feel so many things. For a debut, it is a powerful start to a career and I will be interested to see what Madeline does next.
Until next time xxx
Thanks to Emma at Damppebbles for the tour invite and the author for a copy of the book in return for my honest and unbiased review
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: