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  • Location: Kenya, Nairobi

Leopard at the Door

Leopard at the Door

Why a Booktrail?

1950s: Kenya: But when home is no longer a place of safety and belonging, where do you go, and who do you turn to?

  • ISBN: 978-0241247617
  • Genre: Fiction, Historical, Romance

What you need to know before your trail

Rachel Fullsmith stands on Kenyan soil for the first time in six years.

She has come home and heads straight to the family farm at the end of the dusty Rift Valley Road, excited and nervous to see the family and the home she left behind. However this is not the place she remembers for much has changed in the time she’s been away. Everything has changed. Nothing will ever be the same again.

Outside the home, the rumbles of violence and repression blight the landscape – fear and the threats of reprisals – a war that sees no end and a more violent future. Inside the home, things have also altered beyond recognition; her father lives with another woman and Michael, the handsome Kikuyu boy from her childhood, has started to look at her differently.

Isolated and conflicted, Rachel fears for her future. But when home is no longer a place of safety and belonging, where do you go, and who do you turn to?

Travel Guide

Kenya 1950s

Returning home to any place after six years is hard but imagine it at age 18 with your mother gone and your father in your home with a new woman. The whole picture of what you had before is gone – now just a crude snapshot of black against white, in political and racial terms too.

Kenya is such a colourful and noisy country – one with birds in the trees, giraffes in the distance and where the parched grasses turn green. There is so much life and vibrancy in the colour palette here, of the landscape and the animals and people who live there.

” Lush mountains rise up, punctured by flat plains where giraffe bend the patchwork heads to the tops of yellow-baked acacias.”

“We drive until the parched grasses turn green and the earth becomes soft. My heart soars. I begin to recognise the contours of the land, m mind feeling its way over an old blue-print. This is as familiar to me as breathing”

Mau Mau

The political climate in the country however grows more unsettled by the day. The main threat, danger and fear surrounds the Mau Mau, a society aimed at uniting the native Kenyans and overthrowing the whites. Years under British colonial rule, the Kikuyu people are now rising up and claiming what is theirs, and more.. There are some horrific events in the book, not graphically described but enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end and your body shiver as you read . Scenes in a factory room and those down by the river particularly brutal.

The Kikuya people – those now fighting for freedom were particularly fascinating – the Kikuyu remembering how their lives used to be, compared to the situation they are now in – and the sense of pride and honour that goes with that.

Trail Gallery

Booktrailer Review

Susan: @thebooktrailer

Before reading this novel I had almost no knowledge of the Mau Mau rebellion but now seen through the eyes of a young girl returning to her homeland, I feel I’ve been given a valuable insight. I’m still raw from reading this – it’s an emotional and at times brutal book to read in its unflinching reality. Nothing is graphic but it’s the silence which in this case speaks volumes.

It starts as a slow, lingering love song to Africa and builds up into a crescendo of turmoil, fear and African heartbreak. It was quite a mesmerizing read in its descriptions of the landscape – the beauty and wonder of nature against a backdrop of human anger and depravity. The images evoked by Jennifer’s words were hot and humid, raw and detailed – I could see, smell and feel the beauty of Kenya despite never having been.

I thought it a very effective way of telling the story of turmoil and love through the eyes of a young girl returning to her homeland. As well as the many emotions that obviously brings, doming to a country that has changed more than you have must be quite something. Being fearful of what you used to love, having a new woman in the place of your mother, your friend who is now your enemy.

I feel I’ve learned a lot from this book and been through the journey with Rachel herself although she did seem a little naive at times with what was going on around her. Despite that the love story really captured the essence of the political struggles and the gap of faith and rebellion which took place in the country – although I was slightly disturbed at finding out their earlier relationship when she was much younger. Still, if you get over that, the story of two people reuniting from different sides of the river so to speak, represents so much.

A novel to sink your teeth in to and be transported back to colonial Africa

Booktrail Boarding Pass: Leopard at the Door

Author/Guide: Jennifer McVeigh  Destination: Kenya, Nairobi  Departure Time: 1950s

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