Pat N. (Pittsboro, NC)
Don't Miss This One!
With a light hand the author has created characters who will make you laugh, and others, who will make you cry. Parkin gives an insight into the everyday lives of people in Africa and their ability to survive in face of Aids and recent genocide. Not a depressing book but rather a novel of celebration of humanity and the living. It is a wonderful bookclub novel as it raises so many issues of particular interest to women.
Judith G. (Ewa Beach, HI)
Sent to to the kitchen to bake...
This is a wonderful, poignant, illuminating tale of life on the African continent. I loved Angel...and she was indeed an angel to her friends and neighbors. The story is touching and alarming at the same time. How little we know of that 'dark continent' and the people who live 'normal' lives there. In addition to the Africa component I got hungry just reading the descriptions of her colorfully iced cakes. It only took parts of one day to read this. I didn't want to put it down once I started.
Jan M. (Jenks, OK)
Baking Cakes in Kigali
My reaction as I read this book was "sweet." The repetitive detail about cakes and the tea were almost too much at first, but later on I began to see that there was more to Angel. Her wisdom and compassion and sometimes devious methods made for an interesting read. I loved all her matchmaking, and I cheered at the faked female circumcision. I've traveled in Tanzania and camped near the hippos, so Angels' description of the sound from Omar's nose really cracked me up. Although the stories are completely different, the writer's style is very much like that of Alexander McCall Smith. If I were the editor of this book, I would suggest less cake and tea and more about Angel's friends and family.
KR (Gilbert, AZ)
Baking Cakes in Kigali
An episodic, breezy read in spite of its setting in a post-genocidal Rwanda - serious subjects are mentioned through euphemism (e.g. "the virus" instead of AIDS), and past traumas (like mass graves) appear in ways that seem, at times, heavy-handed.
There's a strong tendency to have the characters explain any necessary background / facts through the dialogue, which could strike some readers as being unnatural. The repetitive commentary about the Wazungus (white foreigners) was also a little simplistic - it's meant to be insightful, occasionally humorous, and sometimes critical, but doesn't begin to approximate the complexities a subject like race relations
would have in a continent with a long colonial history - it's missing a genuine sense of reflection, bite, and pathos.
Recommended with reservations for readers seeking an entertaining story, but not for those expecting a deeper consideration of contemporary Rwanda.