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Three Weeks in December Paperback – January 31, 2012
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"[A House Named Brazil is] Quirky and thoughtful... Schulman renders the strange beauties of a world that draws on resources scarcely known to us." — The New York Times
"A genuine page-turner with literary content." — Boston Globe
"Lyrical . . . Suspenseful . . . Schulman's heroine [in The Cage] is a true original transformed emotionally and physically by experiences marvelously imagined and compellingly described." — The Los Angeles Times
"Bizarre yet intriguing . . . More than enough to keep readers turning pages. . . Schulman's language is lovely." — USA Today
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
The book is written in two narratives, each one about one hundred years apart and taking place during the month of December. One narrative takes place in 1899 and the other in 2000. Both protagonists hail from Maine and end up in Africa.
The first protagonist is Jeremy who takes a job as an engineer for a railroad company in British East Africa, now known as Kenya. He is responsible for supervising several hundred men, mostly from India. They are building a railroad and as the book opens they are responsible for building a bridge that crosses the Tsavo River. Jeremy is an engineer with a good safety record who is more than happy to leave Maine and some personal `secrets' behind. These secrets become obvious as the book progresses. There are only two Caucasians on the project, Jeremy and Alan, the physician.
During Jeremy's tenure in Kenya, a lion is killing off his workers, along with their dying from malaria and other tropical diseases. During the first year in Africa, 30% of the people die from malaria. Jeremy wants to get the lion who is also responsible for deaths in villages. It seems that there are two lions working in tandem and they have developed a taste for human flesh. Jeremy is inspired by Otambe, a tribesman who is a great hunter and who speaks English. Jeremy seeks him out for advice and comraderie. Together they hunt the lions.
Max's narrative forms the other half of the book.Read more ›
In the first plot, Jeremy, an almost terminally shy graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic, jumps at the chance to go to Kenya in 1899, after experiencing social embarrassment at home in Bangor, Maine. "This was the land where he would start afresh," he thinks. Charged with building a railroad from Mombasa to Kisumu, Jeremy is understandably daunted by the plan to build this "lunatic line" using seven hundred untrained African natives and imported workers from India, many of whom will die from attacks by wild beasts, and from tropical diseases, especially malaria, endemic to the Tsavo River. When two enormous lions, reportedly over nine feet long, begin to attack Jeremy's men, even as malaria is affecting up to twenty-five percent of the others, the atmosphere of the work camp reaches new lows. Jeremy must pair up with one of the local Africans to try to find and kill these two lions, who are so powerful that they have managed to kill two people, twenty miles apart, during the same evening.
In the second plot, Dr. Max Tombay, an ethnobotanist with Asperger's Syndrome, travels to Rwanda in 2000, hoping to discover a previously unknown vine which prevents strokes and heart attacks in mountain gorillas. This could be a life-saving discovery for humans, too, and pharmaceutical companies are anxious to develop it.Read more ›
And so it is with Audrey Schulman's inspired, imaginative, and downright haunting new book, Three Weeks in December. Told in alternating perspectives, the book chronicles a three week period in two lives that are separated by a millennium: Jeremy, a young engineer who is charged with overseeing the construction of a railroad in East Africa in 1899, and Max, the female ethnobotonist, who travels to Rwanda's gorilla country searching for a potentially life-saving vine that can be used in the development of a pharmaceutical.
Both are self-defined misfits. Jeremy is "different" in a way that eventually becomes apparent; Max leverages the unique qualities of her Aspergers become an expert in plants. "Most people didn't understand; they consider plants as static as a bureau or a shoe," she thought. "When she looked at a tree, she saw not a stationary object, but a photo of a dancer in mid-motion, the gesture of its branches describing the battle for food or love."
Gradually, the arcs of the two distinct stories come together. As in Campbell's The Hero's Journey, both Jeremy and Max will need to surmount their inner challenges and their worst fears. For Jeremy, he must confront two killer lions who, starved and desperate, are mounting increasingly bold attacks on the camp. Max must confront equally desperate Kutus - a fictional group made up from the details of child soldiers, who are drug-addicted and ruthless in their need to survive.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Loved the book. I felt I was there with them in Africa during each period in time.Published 11 months ago by Kim A. Nathanson
Two seemingly unrelated stories are beautifully woven together in this exceptional novel of Africa. Both stories are compelling, page-turning narratives, with suspense, evocative... Read morePublished 11 months ago by HalKid2
The writing in this book is magnificent. I was drawn in from the very beginning. It does an excellent job describing scenery, smells, feelings and violence. Read morePublished 11 months ago by K. CROWLEYGARDNER
Through most of the book I was somewhat confused as to why or how these two stoies were connected. I would have much preferred each story developed, rather than trying to have... Read morePublished 12 months ago by L. Martindale
One of my favorite reads of 2014. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Schulman's work.Published 16 months ago by Robin
I just don't understand the rave reviews. I concede that this is a well researched novel with regards to gorilla behavior and war in Africa but the characters are stereotypes and... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Stella Beckett
This story of two very different Americans takes place in Africa -- one at the beginning of the twentieth century, the other at the beginning of the twenty-first, with alternate... Read morePublished 24 months ago by blueapple