A Spear of Summer Grass

A Spear of Summer Grass

Book - 2013
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Paris, 1923

The daughter of a scandalous mother, Delilah Drummond is already notorious, even among Paris society. But her latest scandal is big enough to make even her oft-married mother blanch. Delilah is exiled to Kenya and her favorite stepfather's savanna manor house until gossip subsides.

Fairlight is the crumbling, sun-bleached skeleton of a faded African dream, a world where dissolute expats are bolstered by gin and jazz records, cigarettes and safaris. As mistress of this wasted estate, Delilah falls into the decadent pleasures of society.

Against the frivolity of her peers, Ryder White stands in sharp contrast. As foreign to Delilah as Africa, Ryder becomes her guide to the complex beauty of this unknown world. Giraffes, buffalo, lions and elephants roam the shores of Lake Wanyama amid swirls of red dust. Here, life is lush and teeming--yet fleeting and often cheap.

Amidst the wonders--and dangers--of Africa, Delilah awakes to a land out of all proportion: extremes of heat, darkness, beauty and joy that cut to her very heart. Only when this sacred place is profaned by bloodshed does Delilah discover what is truly worth fighting for--and what she can no longer live without.

Publisher: Don Mills, Ont. : Harlequin Mira, 2013
ISBN: 9780778314394
Branch Call Number: FIC Rayb
Characteristics: 370 pages

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b
blueroo276
Dec 26, 2016

Well-written enough that I finished the book, but I just couldn't care about the main character; she was promiscuous and staggeringly self-centered.

l
luther13
Dec 16, 2015

I love the books of Deanna Raybourn, but she really excelled herself with this one! I couldn't stop reading as the story was so compelling, and so well written.

m
marthabwaters
Apr 20, 2015

I LOVE this author - her Lady Julia Grey Victorian mystery series is spectacular - and was a little hesitant to read a standalone novel of hers, but I needn't have worried. This is set in 1920s Kenya, focusing on a socialite who flees to her stepfather's estate to escape disgrace in Paris. Delilah is a great protagonist - not entirely likable, which is refreshing in a female lead, with a really strong voice. Lots of nice historical detail and the book is clearly well-researched. As is almost always the case with books set in Africa focusing primarily on white characters, the racial elements are a little bit oversimplified, but I'm going to let it slide because Raybourn clearly made an effort to understand the complexities of the situation. I don't love this quite as much as her Lady Julia books, but I still really enjoyed this.

mvkramer Feb 03, 2015

I loved reading this book. Delilah Drummond was great - interesting, self-possessed, adventurous and often very funny. 1920's Kenya was described so lushly that I wanted to go there myself. Unfortunately, the love story wasn't as well-executed as the rest of the book - hence, the two stars.

j
jazpur
Jan 08, 2014

Several current writers of historical novels set in the period from WWI to the '30s are clearly influenced by the life of Idina Sackville, the real Bolter. This latest from Deanna Raybourn, is no exception. She has captured the essence of those days in Kenya and the reasons for the Brits being there perfectly.It's naughty, flippant and delightful but she doesn't forget the underlying menace of what was to come.

v
volken
May 30, 2013

Fans of Raybourn won't be disappointed by this latest novel. Delilah is completely different from Lady Julia, but just as stubborn and independent. There is a bit more eroticism here than in Raybourn's "silent" mysteries. Oh yes, this isn't really a mystery but a well-done coming of age novel.

I often go into a new series or a standalone by an author I love with a little trepidation. My biggest worry is usually that it will be too similar to earlier books. I love Lady Julia, but I don't want to read a cookie cutter of her with new dressing.

My trepidation was unfounded. I probably do not love Delilah and Ryder as much as I adore Julia and Brisbane, but as I read A Spear of Summer Grass I forgot the latter pair even existed. Delilah is delightful with her unapologetic spoiled decadence, but she is not the shallow ninny her lifestyle might suggest. She reveals herself to have incredible kindness and depth of character. "I am no one's best example," quips Delilah at one point. How wrong she was.

I also really appreciated that this was not just a murder mystery, not just a romance based around a smouldering man, but rather a subtle sort of adult coming-of-age with Africa as the real romantic hero who opens her eyes; It's not about whodunit or the hot guy, it is about Delilah's pain, recovery, and finding out who she is meant to be. Raybourn's description of Africa is completely compelling, capturing how different and isolating the land and culture are, which are exactly the qualities that make it so inspiring and empowering.

True storytelling talent really comes through when an author of an established series can create a new, strong voice, and Ms. Raybourn is clearly brimming with talent. The dialogue and prose in this book sparkle with natural ease and confidence in the language without being pretentious or overreaching. A Spear of Summer Grass is outstanding and is Deanna Raybourn's best writing yet.

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