Baker & Taylor
Set in Africa at the end of the nineteenth century, a sweeping historical novel features four characters--a fervent missionary, his young wife, a British officer, and an African tribal chief--whose beliefs and passions are tested by history.
Blackwell North Amer
In reaction to the death of her deeply religious mother, young Clara Musson loses her faith and grows up seeking pleasure in the company of raffish army officers and rich landowners. After being jilted by a cynical connoisseur of art and women, Clara turns to Robert Haslam, a dedicated missionary whose descriptions of the spiritual benefits of his work in Africa persuade her to marry him and give purpose to her life.
On her way to join her husband in Africa, Clara is aided by Francis Vaughan, an impoverished young officer in the British Army, and by Heywood Fynn, a hard-bitten American ivory trader. Although puzzled by their skepticism about missionaries, she appreciates their kindness to her. Only when she arrives at Robert's village does she begin to understand their attitude; for her husband, instead of being widely loved by the Venda tribe, is both feared and hated.
His greatest adherent, the chief, Mponda, although impressed by Robert's fervent belief, will split his tribe if he converts to Christianity, which would oblige him to disown all but one of his many wives, including the youngest, Herida, who becomes Clara's closest friend. Ironically - and tragically - Herida's father, as the tribal witch doctor, is the staunchest defender of the old ways and Robert's most implacable enemy.
When civil war breaks out, the British detachment sent to relieve the village is led by Francis Vaughan, whom Clara has not forgotten. What follows is not only a searing description of a continent in turmoil, of cultures in irremediable conflict, but the gripping story of four honorable people - Clara, Robert, Francis, and Mponda - trapped by their beliefs, their passions, and the tides of history.
Set in Africa at the end of the nineteenth century, this historical novel features four characters--a fervent missionary, his young wife, a British officer, and an African tribal chief--whose beliefs and passions are tested by history