Forna's first novel is told through the alternating stories of four
strong women that, in combination, powerfully capture the social and
political history of the small West African country of Sierra Leone through at
least 60 troubled years.
The story opens in 2003 with Abie, a young woman
born and raised in Sierra Leone but now settled in London with her European
husband and their children, opening a letter from her aunts informing her that
they are giving her the family coffee plantation, and requesting that she
return for a visit. It is not just the plantation they want to give her. On her return, the aunts share with Abie their own stories as if they were lifting "the past from their own
shoulders" and handing it to her, so that she might continue to pass the
stories through the generations.
My only criticism of this gorgeous, powerful...
Beyond the Book
A Short History of Sierra Leone
The Republic of Sierra Leone is a small country with a population of about
5.3 million on the west coast of Africa (map) bordered by Guinea and Liberia (For more about Liberia visit
at BookBrowse and click the "BookBrowse Says" link). The
life expectancy of men is 39 years and women 42 years. The name is an
adaptation of the Portuguese, "serra leoa" (lion mountains).
During the 18th century it was an important center for the slave trade. In the late
18th century, British abolitionists and the Sierra Leone Company founded
Freetown as a home for Black Britons* and in 1808 the country became the first
British colony in Africa; by 1821 Freetown was the seat of government for all