Thursday, September 26, 2013

Local Customs

Synopsis from Goodreads:

"In this historical novel based on real events, Letitia Landon and George Maclean marry in June 1838 and sail off to West Africa. Eight weeks later she is dead from what appears to be an overdose of prussic acid. Her doctor and a chemist swear they never prescribed or made up such a solution.

The mystery is never resolved. The ship that brought Letitia's cheerful letters to London was the same one that announced her death. All sorts of rumours fly around. Complicating matters is the presence of Thomas Birch Freeman, a Wesleyan missionary. A letter he writes after Letitia's demise causes trouble for George Maclean. Brodie Cruickshank, in charge of the fort at Anamaboe, a few miles away, also seems to have fallen in love with Letitia.

But what really happened to Letitia in this exotic and dangerous place so far away from her home?"

I liked how the book was written in different points of view from different characters in the story, giving them a life of their own. It gave different sets of outlook on similar situations. Snippets of different customs or traditions of tribal Africa were even captured and described vividly allowing the reader to take part in the activities. The reader is also given a glimpse of the lives of these people during their time, and they are much appreciated even with their simplicity. Even if I found the ending a bit hanging, upon reading the epilogue, I discovered that up to now, the death of Letitia Landon still remains a mystery. It was also a puzzle that once the death of Letitia Landon was spelled out, the events unfolded quite quickly, allowing the reader little time to swallow it all in, forgetting the importance of the other characters. Though the story didn't delve much into deeper details, it was a great short read without the boring parts that history entails.

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