I’ve been a bit remiss lately with writing my book reviews – but I feel I have a good excuse.
As well as being busy doing edits on my own novel, I sort of accidentally launched my own business in March.
CAUTION: SALES PLUG
For those of you not aware Bert’s Books is an online bookshop that specialises in subscription bundles.
/END SALES PLUG
Fortunately, this new business means that I’m getting to read more than I ever did before. Some might say that that’s the reason I launched it. To them, I say – “Excuse me, move out of my light, I’m trying to read.”
So, I’m going to try and make up for the books that I haven’t blogged about yet, by writing them now. This might mean you get a few blogs hitting you over the next few days – but that’s the way it will be from now on, since I’ll be reading 3 or 4 books a week.
It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it.
First up – and in no particular order is Hold by Michael Donkor
What’s it about?
Belinda is seventeen years old and a housemaid in Ghana to a couple she knows as Aunty and Uncle, she works alongside Mary, a much younger girl and the two of them become surrogate sisters.
But then Uncle and Aunty send Belinda away, to London with Nana and Doctor. There, she is to be treated as a member of the family, to be educated, and they hope to tame their wild-child daughter Amma.
What’s it like?
Most of the book is told from Belinda’s point of view, which with her Ghanaian sensibilities and idioms – at first proving distracting to me. There is a glossary at the beginning of the book with some Ghanaian words and their English.
I tried not to use it, I don’t like books where you have to keep flipping back to check something, be it a map, a family tree or a glossary, I think it takes you out of the action, and really the book should be well written enough to not need it.
I’m not saying don’t put the Ghanaian words in, but using them in the right context at the right time and the reader will pick up what it means. Fortunately, Donkor achieves this and I didn’t have to use the glossary, bar one time towards the end of the book.
It’s not until you get to Amma’s point of view chapters that you realise how well written Belinda’s are. They have two distinct voices, I can see and hear them, almost feel them in my head.
What’s the best bit?
The bit that will come to mind when I think of this book in the future is Belinda’s trip from the airport to her new home in London.
It’s a switching of positions for the reader and Belinda. We’re (probably) unfamiliar with her home in Ghana, but her commentary as Donkor takes the reader into the familiar streets and sights of London is both wry and spot-on. A real insight into how a stranger to this country must feel.