Sunday, April 8, 2012

Listening For Lions

I first heard of Listening For Lions by Gloria Whelan from Kate at Book Aunt. It's been a while but I finally got around to it in the massive TBR. This is a quiet sort of book that tells an interesting story. It is not my typical sort of book but I know several people who would really love it.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Thirteen-year-old Rachel Sheridan is left an orphan after influenza takes the lives of her missionary parents in British East Africa in 1919. National Book Award-winning author Whelan crafts a wickedly delicious story of treachery and triumph, in which one young woman must claim her true identity in order to forge her own future and transform herself from victim to heroine.

I really enjoyed the first two thirds of the book and was fully engaged. Whelan did a beautiful job describing Africa. I really felt as though I could see the places, the land, the animals, the people. Rachel is in an interesting position as the daughter of English missionaries yet doesn't seem to appreciate how different she is until everything comes to an end. I continued to enjoy the book as Rachel was taken in by some unethical folk who ship her off to England to pretend to be somebody else. The book took on the feel of a Frances Hodgson Burnett book. Again, Whelan did a beautiful job describing the estate where Rachel was living and her relationship with "Grandfather". The constant battle her conscience was waging read realistically and waiting to see how it would all unfold was intriguing. The last third of the book my interest started to wane. This part felt more like a summary than a story. We quickly follow Rachel through years of schooling and working toward her dream to return to Africa with little character development or dialogue. There was some interesting glimpses into the prejudices and difficulties women wishing to become professionals had during the time, but overall it was disappointing as the first part of the book was extremely engaging. 

I think this book is a good selection for those who really enjoy quiet historical fiction.

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