Warm, humorous and finally very moving, this marvellous first novel by Marilyn Heward Mills is set in British West Africa, Gold Coast, in the 1940s, during the ten years leading up to Independence.
Matilda Quartey is fourteen years old when sophisticated black Gold Coast lawyer, Robert Bannerman, sets eyes on her and resolves to take her as his second wife. For Julie, his first wife, this is a colossal slap in the face; for Matilda it is an abrupt - and cruel - end to childhood. Entwined with their story - by turns funny and heartbreaking - is that of Alan Turton, new ADC to the Governor and his dissatisfied wife, Audrey, a hard-drinking accident waiting to happen, who is appalled by her new life.
Marilyn Heward Mills's Africa is a cauldron of contradictions: fatalistic but brimming with optimism; outwardly Christian, yet profoundly superstitious and reliant on fetish priests; poverty-stricken, but rich in pride and family values; vibrant with colour yet darkened by violence; exhausting, yet exhilarating. For Matilda it is her passionately loved homeland; for Audrey it is a prison. For the men it is a land of opportunity, where careers can be made and broken, fortunes lost and won. And for all of them the events of these ten years will shape and define their lives forever.