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A Spear of Summer Grass: A Story of Love and Friendship on the African Savannah Kindle Edition
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About the Author
-Nora Roberts, #1 New York Times bestselling author
"[A] perfectly executed debut...Deft historical detailing [and] sparkling first-person narration."
-Publishers Weekly starred review on Silent in the Grave
"A riveting drama that makes page turning obligatory. A very fine debut effort from Deanna Raybourn."
-Bookreporter.com on Silent in the Grave
"A sassy heroine and a masterful, secretive hero. Fans of romantic mystery could ask no more-except the promised sequel."
-Kirkus Reviews on Silent in the Grave
"This debut novel has one of the most clever endings I've seen."
-Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author on Silent in the Grave
"Deceptively civilized and proper, Silent in the Grave has undercurrents of nefarious deeds, secrets and, my favorite, poisons. An excellent debut novel."
-Maria V. Snyder, author of Poison Study on Silent in the Grave
"There are some lovely twists in the plot and a most satisfactory surprise ending. I hope to read more from Deanna Raybourn in time to come."
-Valerie Anand, author of The Siren Queen, written under the name of Fiona Buckley, on Silent in the Grave
"Fans and new readers alike will welcome this sparkling sequel to Raybourn's debut Victorian mystery, Silent in the Grave...the complex mystery, a delightfully odd collection of characters and deft period details produce a rich and funny read."
-Publishers Weekly on Silent in the Sanctuary
"Raybourn skillfully balances humor and earnest, deadly drama, creating well-drawn characters and a rich setting."
-Publishers Weekly on Dark Road to Darjeeling
"Beyond the development of Julia's detailed world, her boisterous family and dashing husband, this book provides a clever mystery and unique perspective on the Victorian era through the eyes of an unconventional lady."
-Library Journal on The Dark Enquiry --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- Publication Date : July 17, 2017
- File Size : 1099 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 384 pages
- Publisher : MIRA; Original Edition (July 17, 2017)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B06ZZLXTQG
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Page Numbers Source ISBN : 0778314391
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #158,338 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I love reading stories set in Africa. I've read all of Isak Dinesen's books including Out of Africa: and Shadows on the Grass (Vintage International) . Although "A Spear of Summer Grass" features a couple of interesting characters, including the awesome Ryder White, the sad overtones of the storyline along with the liberal sexual morality was simply not my cup of tea.
Spoiler Alert: Delilah Drummond, is sent to Africa to rusticate after her latest scandal. Oft married and divorced, Delilah has the morals of an alley cat. She still occasionally sleeps with her second husband who is married with children. But, that's okay because she never slept around during the times she was married. Forget the fact, she's sleeping with men who are married. When she arrives in Africa, she immediately hooks up with the local socialites, many of whom she knew in England or other travels. Not the least of these is an artist who lives nearby and with whom she begins a sexual relationship almost as soon as she sets her feet on the African soil.
Obviously, the big love match will be Ryder White but for most of the story theirs is a friendship with the two of them finally committing to one another on the last page or two of the book. Can you believe that? It was too little, too late for my tastes. I did enjoy the camaraderie between Delilah, Ryder and the tribes-people along with the bits about the society of that day.
I've read this author's Lady Julia books -- at least the earlier ones; frankly,I got bored with the series -- and liked A Spear of Summer Grass much more, to the point of setting everything else aside until I finished it. The willing suspension of disbelief, indeed.
Delilah Drummond is no stranger to scandal, having learned the essentials of mastering a notorious lifestyle with verve and flair at her mother Mossy's knee. But her latest scandal is even too much for her open-minded mother, as following her last husband's suicide and the subsequent battle over his assets, the newspapers smell blood -- and Delilah's questionable mores and carefree lifestyle are the target, with collateral damage among her family, friends, and ex-husbands not just a fear, but a very real possibility. And so Delilah is sent packing, her infamy and seemingly unstoppable proclivity for fostering scandal sent to Fairlight, her (first) stepfather's Kenyan estate. There she will cool her heels, lost in the wilds of Africa, until the worst of the scandal passes and she is free to return from exile -- free to return to her endless round of parties and pleasure-seeking, a life of carelessly constructed excess designed to fill the hole ripped in her soul by the Great War.
But nothing prepared Delilah for Africa. Even in Nairobi, Delilah finds her reputation has proceeded her, souring the opinion of local authorities against her presence. Fairlight has fallen into disrepair, and she throws herself into the project of its rehabilitation -- and as word of her presence spreads, the natives arrive, seeking work, medicine, and justice, casting the new mistress of Fairlight as benefactress, a role Delilah isn't sure she's willing -- or able -- to play. Drawing on reservoirs of strength and determination she never knew she possessed, Delilah settles into life at Fairlight and slowly but surely finds herself falling under Africa's heady, intoxicating spell.
All temptation, however, was not left behind in Europe and America, as the small community of expatriates Delilah meets remind her of the life to which she fully intends to return, even as she finds herself troubled by their excesses and attitude toward the native Africans. She renews a liason with Kit, a painter, even as she's inexorably drawn to the rugged masculinity and raw power of Ryder White, a legendary hunter. But the more time she spends with Ryder, the more Delilah realizes that Ryder is the one man she can't control, the one man who threatens to demand more of her than she's willing to give -- the fearful leap of whole-hearted commitment. As tensions escalate over Kenya's bid for independence, an unspeakable crime is committed, and Delilah is forced to confront her deepest fears and decide if she has the strength to stop running and claim a life and a love the likes of which she'd never dreamed -- a life as starkly honest and unvarnished as Africa, the land that's staked an irrevocable claim on her soul.
Last year I was captivated by Far in the Wilds, the prequel novella to Delilah's story, in which Raybourn introduced Ryder in all of his smoldering glory and rugged charm. But to my everlasting chagrin, I allowed the follow-up to languish on my to-be-read pile -- however, if a book was ever worth the wait, it's this one. A Spear of Summer Grass is an absolutely intoxicating read. As an ardent fan of British costume dramas, I'm always on the lookout for novels that replicate that viewing experience -- and with the exception of Philip Rock's Greville trilogy, novels that possess that cinematic spark, that seduce the reader with luxurious prose, unforgettable characterizations, and an unparalleled sense of time and place have fallen short -- until now. With Delilah's story, Raybourn has delivered a sterling example of everything I crave in historical fiction. A Spear of Summer Grass is a story to be savored, an evocative glimpse into a world long past, and a heartbreaking examination of the transformative effect of the Great War on social mores and those who survived to stitch together the shattered remains of their pre-war illusions.
Delilah is, perhaps, Raybourn's strongest heroine to date. Powerfully informed by the tremendously flawed, strong women surrounding her Lousiana-Creole upbringing, she's independent, strong-willed, and compassionate, renowned for her fast lifestyle but with her own strong moral code that cannot be denied. By setting this novel in the early post-war years, at the dawn of the heady rush that was the Roaring Twenties, Raybourn is able to explore the well-entrenched impact of the Great War on a bright young thing like Delilah. The loss of her first great love, Johnny, and the wholesale destruction the conflict wreaked upon her generation is, in a word, catastrophic. As her cousin and companion Dora so astutely observes, it isn't endless pleasure that Delilah seeks with her hedonistic lifestyle, it's oblivion -- always fleeting and increasingly temporary, a mind-numbing salve that allows her time and again to deny coming to terms with herself and her life. With Delilah, Raybourn has captured the underlying brokenness of the 1920s, the pain that so often festered just beneath the excess, a never-healed wound carried by many of those touched by the previous decade's conflict.
I knew from reading Raybourn's Lady Julia novels that she could pen a swoon-worthy romance, and maybe it's just been a while since I read those but with Ryder I'm convinced she's crafted her best hero yet. Cut from the classic adventure mold created by the likes of Allen Quartermain, and which informed my favorite, Indiana Jones, Ryder is bold, brash, and larger-than-life, every bit as wounded as Delilah. Yet where her first, carefully-honed instinct is to run, he is one who plays the long game, a stayer who'd like nothing more than the chance to invest in a relationship with Delilah, much as he has in building his life in Africa. As Ryder tells Delilah, Africa is "no country for softness," the land serving as the crucible in which those who are broken are remade -- but one must make the choice to survive, to embrace a life lived on the knife edge of uncertainty and live it to the full. With Ryder and Delilah, Raybourn has penned a romance for the ages, at once cinematic in scope and breathtakingly intimate. For Ryder, broken and remade as he is, is a man who proves over and over that "he's a hell of a stayer."
Raybourn paints the canvas of her story with sweeping, gorgeously-rendered detail, evoking colonial Africa as a land ripe with possibilities, on the cusp of great change, and not for the faint of heart. Peopled with a host of colorful supporting players, from Gideon, the Masai warrior Delilah befriends, the pleasure-seeking expat Helen, and Tusker, Ryder's indomitable aunt. I particularly loved Raybourn's handling of race relations in 1923 -- while Delilah is a very forward-thinking woman, she's still very much a product of her time, and as such is able to confront issues like race relations and colonial justice with sensitivity and thought-provoking honesty.
A Spear of Summer Grass is a stunning, wholly absorbing novel that will sweep you away to a world lost to the inexorable march of time. Replete with lush, evocative descriptions of Africa's wild beauty, with characters dancing across this vast panorama every bit as wild, wonderful, and unique as the land the grow to love. As a product of Raybourn's imagination, Delilah is a masterclass in characterization; as a character she is an irresistible, compelling force to be reckoned with, one that will wile her way into your heart and captivate your imagination. At once a fascinating character piece, a love letter to a beautiful land, and an insightful examination of the shattering effects of the Great War, A Spear of Summer Grass is a novel to be savored. This is Raybourn at her finest -- lush prose, impeccable plotting, sublimely crafted characters, and a heart-tugging, sweeping saga that will leave its indelible imprint on your imagination.
Top reviews from other countries
This could be read on its own, but I reccomend reading 'Far in the Wilds' if you want a taster, first. It's a short story that introduces the Hero, but is entertaining in its own right .
A fantastic holiday read - evocative, romantic, some 'sizzling' that does not bog down the plot, and a heroine that goes her own way, with her own code and damn the consequences! As ever with this author, it left me wanting another book. Highly reccomended.