BT-East of the Sun

Barbara Brickmore, Author, Barbara Bickmore, Author Ballantine Books $8.95 (571p) ISBN 978-0-345-34259-1
Bickmore debuts with a historical romance loosely based on the tumultuous history of 20th century Africa amid the dismantling of European colonialism. The bloodshed accompanying the founding of Zaire, the increasing polarization of races within South Africa, crushing famines and even the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic are seen through the eyes of Liliane Wentworth, a young missionary who ventures to Simbayo, a fictional medical settlement in the Congo, and remains in Africa for six decades. Liliane's is, at heart, a simple and well-told love story, though the only affections that death does not ultimately steal are her ties to Africa and the devotion of her granddaughter. Bickmore weaves the historical events around the central fictional narrative with great skill and restraint. Her characters are neither partisans nor zealots; their first intent, always, is to ease the suffering of those whose homeland is subject to the whims of rough climate and even harsher political conditions. Bickmore's prose is lean and unsentimental, her descriptions of Africa and its people compassionate but not condescending. While the entertainment value of her romance is never sacrificed to historical veracity, the factual past is also not bent to an unrecognizable shape in the service of commercial fiction. $150,000 ad/promo. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1988
Release date: 06/01/1988
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