Monday, April 12, 2010

This September Sun review from The Zimbabwean

Phillip Chidavaenzi's review of Bryony Rheam's novel has appeared in The Zimbabwean, summarizing it as 'an engaging novel... a worthy read.'

The review continues:
'The book tells the story of Ellie, intertwined with the tales of her loved ones, and how fate often interferes with people’s well-laid plans...
Rheam successfully punctures the romantic illusions that many locals have about the European Diaspora –especially in the UK – showing that London is, after all, not the paradise of our dreams, as those fleeing a collapsing nation would quickly admit.
When the protagonist, Ellie, gets a chance to go to the UK, she’s overjoyed, but her stay there gives her a rare opportunity of introspection.
What I found striking was the fact that despite her joy at leaving Zimbabwe, when she gets to the UK, she felt “a dislocation” from her “surroundings” and learns that life “was unreal there”.
The general assumption is that white Zimbabweans who go to the UK are better off and can fit in better than their black counterparts, but Rheam successfully enables the reader to disabuse themselves of this notion.
It would appear that dislocation from a familiar environment forces people to hold on to anything that keeps them firmly attached to their roots and this comes out strongly as Ellie begins to think so much about her home. She confesses: “I found myself reading African novels more and more: Nadine Gordimer, AndrĂ© Brink, Doris Lessing…”.
Rheam also poignantly captures what I would call the terror of the abortive land “reform” in Zimbabwe. Ellie’s return from the UK coincides with the people’s attempts at an artificial escape of the horror on the ground through turning to foreign news and locking themselves up in their homes.
The book is littered with deeply-felt, moving scenes such as Ellie’s last encounter with Miles, when she receives the sad news of her grandmother’s murder and when she discusses the family history with her mother as well as the time she spends with Wally dying in a British hospital. '

The full review in The Zimbabwean can be found at

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