Blood Sisters, Barbara & Stephanie Keating
Vintage Books, 595 pages
Ever since the day that Hannah brought classmates Sarah and Camilla home for lunch at Langani Farm in the Kenya Highlands, the three girls have been inseparable. Their friendship was rather unexpected; Hannah was a bit awkward and had not made any friends at the boarding school during her first two years as a day pupil. She had, in fact, only invited the artistic Sarah and elegant Camilla to the farm at her mother’s urging. As it turned out, all three girls had been sitting on the social sidelines, and when they found each other, they became like sisters. Their friendship carried them through the school week, and most weekends, they came home with Hannah to enjoy the loving welcome and the pastoral beauty of the surroundings.
Once school was finished, the three girls began very different lives. Sarah returned to Ireland to study zoology at Dublin University, Camilla embarked on a successful modelling career in London, and Hannah followed her parents to Rhodesia, where they had been exiled without explanation. Hannah’s brother Piet was now running the farm, and he needed to be careful. Kenya was in a state of political upheaval, and many indigenous Kenyans were not happy about an Afrikaaner holding on to land they may view as rightly theirs.
As their twenty-first birthdays draw near, Hannah, Sarah and Camilla find that Kenya is calling them home, even if it is no longer the refuge they remember. They return to a newly independent Kenya, barely coping with a legacy of unresolved political tensions. They must get acquainted again with Kenya, and find their way despite the constant threat of violence.
Written by two sisters who grew up in Kenya, this richly atmospheric, highly emotional novel will appeal to readers who enjoyed Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible and Kristin Hannah’s The Winter Garden.