Review published on May 10, 2018.
At the beginning of this book we meet Natalie, who is staying on her uncle and aunt’s farm in Zimbabwe. We know she has left London after a traumatic time in her life, but we do not know what that is until much later. While out riding with her uncle, Natalie finds an abandoned baby which is taken to live in the nearby village.
In chapter two, we go back to 1896 when Chief Tafara was living on this land. His story is told by his grandson. When the white men came to settle on the land there was a clash between the tribe and the newcomers, with predictable results. The chapters alternate between Natalie and Tafara and their stories do eventually come together. Tafara loses his family, gets into trouble, finds Communism, and a wife. Natalie stays on in Zimbabwe and teaches the teenagers in the village school. When Robert Mugabe comes to power, Tafara’s grandson and Natalie’s family are on opposite sides.
I thought this was an excellent portrayal of how trouble had escalated between indigenous people and settlers who both believe they owned the land. I had sympathy for all those caught up in the conflict and it was easy to understand the issues and why it was so difficult to solve their problems.
The writing style is quite flat and unemotional, but Stephan Collishaw does a good job of making his readers understand the situation by the use of two narrators.
Dorothy Anderson 3/3
A Child Called Happiness by Stephan Collishaw
Legend Press 9781787198814 pbk May 2018
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