I have had The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley on hold at the library since early November. I was only third in line, when I placed the hold. Clearly the others ahead of me were not fast readers, or they just held onto the book for the full three week loan period with no hurry to return it... I waited, and waited, and waited. Several weeks ago after finishing March, I returned it and went looking for something else to read while I continued to wait for The Firebird. I brought home A Different Sun, A Novel of Africa by Elaine Neil Orr and The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng. And of course- you know what happened several days later.. The Firebird was now ready for pickup! By this time I was well into A Different Sun so I finished it (379 pages), and have now finished The Firebird too (455 pages). So you see- I HAVE been
So I'll save a review of The Firebird for another day, and tell you about A Different Sun, A Novel of Africa. Set in the mid 1800's, it takes us on a missionary journey to Africa, inspired by the diaries of the first Southern Baptist missionaries, as well as the author's own experiences as the daughter of modern day missionaries in Nigeria. The story focuses not so much on the whole religious missionary experience, but more on the cultural experience of a white couple in Africa. Emma, the young newlywed is the main narrator, although sometimes she is joined by her husband Henry or their African assistant Jacob. Emma not only has to deal with the usual struggles of being a new wife to a headstrong husband who has some mental health issues, but also to adjusting to a new way of life in a country very different from her own. Cultural differences, language barriers, very limited resources and ordinary daily struggles in a foreign land push Emma to question her faith and why she has come to Africa. She learns far more than she has come to teach, and perseveres against the odds. Orr has written beautifully, a story of love and faith, strength and survival. Emma grew up in Georgia, the daughter of slave-holders, and a parting gift from Uncle Eli, an old slave, is a treasure and leads her to an interesting discovery near the end of the book. I will not spoil things by telling you any more.... It was not a quick or an easy read, but definitely an interesting one...
And now I'm off to start The Garden of Evening Mists. Are you enjoying a new book this Christmas?
To read or not to read... that is a silly question.