Review published on April 14, 2017.
Set in 1997, when Laura is now living with Tim and her son Adam in the UK, this book recounts what occurred back in 1985 when she was with Oscar in Africa and how Oscar, although now dead, has impacted on her family’s happiness despite his demise.
Laura is an artist inspired by the wildlife of Africa. She has always sought fulfilment through her art. She should be happy that she will not need to worry about money ever again. But her wealth is derived from blood diamonds and she is resentful of it. She wants nothing to do with it. She has been used and her trust abused. Yet she can’t quite manage to dispose of it, just in case.
Tim is a foreign correspondent who has always reported from the unstable political environment of North East Africa. Now he is an editor back in Blighty – but away from the risk and no longer immersed in a residual level of chaos, he is somewhat stifled and uninspired. Cracks are appearing.
Laura’s art is not as inspired as it once was either. Related via a dialogue with the reader and sessions with a therapist, you learn how Laura and Tim met, what their lives were like in Africa and what transpired with the imposing Oscar. This relatively recent portrayal of Africa with a very observational prose is immersive and engaging. It encompasses politics, love, war, extortion and art seamlessly. I felt transported to Africa, such were the vivid images of the dusty landscape and creaky ram shackled buildings. The threat from beasts and corrupt men alike was palpable. Hartley has drawn beautifully upon her colonial Zimbabwean upbringing and used her artistic abilities to craft a most creative and indelible story with resonating characters and circumstances that compel. One definitely to mark for reading.
Sara Garland 4/4
The Tin Heart Gold Mine by Ruth Hartley
Matador 9781785898761 pbk Dec 2016
AMR: Graeme Macrae Burnet meets Sheila A Grant
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