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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan

This is one of my favorite historical fiction novels. Gloria Whelan is able to make Africa memorable while creating a believable story.

Rachel Sheridan is the daughter of English missionaries. Her father is a doctor, her mother, a teacher. Africa is Rachel’s home. But during the flu epidemic that swept the world after the first Great War, her parents die and she must go back to England. She promises to return and re-open the hospital her parents started.

The other English family that the Sheridans know in Africa, the Pritchards, lost their daughter in the epidemic. Coincidentally, she has the same red hair and was the same age as Rachel. Since the Pritchards personify the worst of English traits and are the anti-thesis of the Sheridans, they hatch a plot to send Rachel to England, posing as their now-dead daughter, in order to ingratiate herself to the grandfather who has disowned his son, Mr. Pritchard. They hope that Rachel, a.k.a. “Valerie” will convince the old man to leave his inheritance to them.

And thus begins a child’s innate virtuous character pitted against the schemes and greed of older yet-not-wiser adults.

In addition to a marvelous moral tale, there is much to learn of Africa and the experience of the first women doctors.

For those parents out there who have been touched by Immaculee Ilabagiza’s story, Left to Tell, you may be as interested as I was that this author drew upon the journal of Dr. Synder, who was a missionary physician in Rwanda, and was forced to leave during the genocide. His memoir is entitled: On a Hill Far Away.

Safety Rating: 3 Flags

Historical Fiction: 1919; Africa; Influenza epidemic


Angela August 20, 2009 at 6:53 PM  

Thanks for this excellent recommendation! We have been listening to this on CD and the kids are loving it!

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