Afternoon readers and another review from a wonderful author, Emily Barroso. I reviewed another of her books back in March and I thought it was time to bring another review of one of her books to mylittlebookblog. I’ve been really working to bring you more and more reviews and it’s really brilliant as a blogger to be able to bring you just as good a review as the first. If you do want to take a look at my review to see what you’re in store for, take a look here if not, let’s not waste any more time and instead get straight on with the review.
After the Rains is an adventurous, dramatic coming of age novel set in post-colonial Rhodesia that parallels the coming of age of fictional Jayne Cameron with that of post-colonial Rhodesia as it morphs into the free Zimbabwe. This is an intimate novel, told in the first person, of a young, spirited girl. It is set against a vast backdrop of the upheaval and tragedy of an African war, in which a girl battles to make sense of her life during the complexities of her time. The novel has universal appeal with its themes of land, loss, longing and redemption and the ability of the human spirit to overcome great odds. This is a powerful, gripping read that is ultimately redemptive for Jayne, written by an author whose own early life was affected by similar themes.
So reading the blurb I wasn’t sure on this book. Although I adore historical fiction sometimes I worry that I don’t have enough knowledge to really get to enjoy the book depending what era it is in. Now stick with me, my fondness for this genre does sit in the history of the story that is being told but I don’t want to feel like I’m missing out if I lack knowledge in that area of history. Here however, I found myself utterly compelled to keep reading deeper into the plot, learning more and more as I worked my way further into the narrative. As you can see from the blurb we follow Jayne, a darling character who lives during the dire and disastrous consequences of the African Civil war. We see as she struggles to make sense of the world around her as it radically changes causing her ideas regarding her life to change fundamentally. A wonderful read with a real sense of recovery and redemption.
So, in terms of the historical side of this novel I thought that the political side of the book was written with such a level of skill that I couldn’t put the book down. The writing is melodic and lyrical but it is stuffed full of details and specifics that help to pinpoint the reader into this new environment. The writing is powerful and poetic, full of detailed writing that is both gripping and vivid but smooth and without stumbles. It is so evocative of the reasons why I adore historical fiction. The characters are brilliantly built; Jayne is both free-spirited and gentle but then powerful and unmoveable. She has a gentle spirit and seeing her life change so definitely made me feel a little emotional. The additional supporting characters that are interweaved into the life of the main character are also written flawlessly. The book is written with heartfelt emotion that is written layer after layer into the plot itself. It’s not all tears and pain because there is also laughter and forgiveness and a sense of recovery that makes this is all the more moving.
In terms of details, I thought the specifics of the farmers working tireless and the miners and the ways that lives were changed in a way that could not be reversed was written brilliantly. I felt, as I was reading that I was learning more and more about this part of the world and this time in history. The pace is steady, but I think it works here; there are not jolts or upheavals but instead a languishing story that I won’t forget for a while I can promise you that. I thought the use of the native language helped to make this more evocative and real. I say this all the time but historical fiction needs to place the reader somewhere utterly and completely new and this does this with stunning clarity.
Overall, if you couldn’t tell I loved this book. Powerful and exciting it was a book that I didn’t really want to end. I think the title is beautiful and the cover matches it perfectly. Overall a really strong read and one I will be passing along so others get the joy of experiencing it for themselves.