Today I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Leopard At The Door, the latest novel from Jennifer McVeigh. I often enjoy historical fiction and was intrigued by this one due to its premise and its setting which is one I have not read much about previously.
Leopard At The Door takes place in Kenya in the 1950’s as Rachel Fullsmith returns home after six years away. Aged eighteen, Rachel was a child when she was last on Kenyan soil, growing up there before a move to England to attend a boarding school in the wake of her mother’s death. But as Rachel returns to a place of which she is familiar, she finds that much has changed since she was last at home. At the family farm her father is living with another woman and her son, and there is a great deal of political unrest and the threat of danger simmering beneath the surface. Rachel hears stories of the Mau Mau soldiers and their violence towards the British, and as the situation gets more and more heated Rachel finds that her home is not a safe place to be. As the danger looms ever closer, Rachel is forced to find a way to strengthen her relationships, old and new, in a time of such difficulty and uncertainty.
I had not heard of the Mau Mau rebellion before so found this story to be both interesting and shocking. As news of brutal acts against their neighbours are heard, there is a sense of unease for Rachel and her family’s safety as the rebel soldiers make their presence felt. This results in some uncomfortable reading as we see the extent of the brutality both against the Europeans and their animals and livestock. It is worth mentioning that there are parts of this story that made for difficult reading with frequent occurrences of animals being harmed which were distressing and certainly helped in portraying the level of fear and threat inflicted upon the community. The setting is also vividly described with McVeigh creating an image of rural life in the stifling Kenyan heat. We hear of the people, the wildlife and the landscape and how it is affected by the rebellion. But alongside the conflict taking place around Rachel’s home there are also fraught relationships within it. Rachel wishes to rebuild a relationship with her father after years apart whilst staying true to the woman she has become. There is also the small matter of the new additions to the household – Sara and her son Harold – and how they will react to Rachel’s’ return. And to exacerbate the already complex situation, there is the prospect of forbidden love, and of long held secrets waiting to be revealed…
Leopard at the Door is a compelling story which provides fascinating insight into a time of great unrest. It is also a story of a young woman and her return home, and how she must try to hold on to those she loves the most, against the odds.
Leopard at the Door is to be published in paperback on 13th July 2017 by Penguin Viking but you can download the e-book from 18th May 2017. Many thanks to Penguin Viking for providing a proof copy for review.
This review has been written as part of the Leopard at the Door blog tour. You can check out the other stops on the tour on the dates and blogs below.