No stop, it’s not what you are thinking. When I googled images for this post title, all I got was some vampire show. What I was after is the cover image to Stephanie and Barbara Keating’s book: Blood Sisters.
The story follows three girls growing up in Kenya, around Independence time. They are Hannah, an Afrikaner whose parents are 2nd (or is 3rd) generation farmers in Langani, their sprawling farm. There is Sarah, daughter of a doctor and Camilla, whose father is a diplomat. They met in school and their friendship blossomed. They made a vow to be blood sisters, be there for each other no matter what. But are like these innocent promises we make with our friends, and this bond will be tested time and again. Is it strong enough to survive the test of time itself?
It’s such a well-written book. It tells the story of white Kenyans, the story of the ‘other side’ I suppose. The blacks (otherwise known as the natives) in the story are relegated to the background, and I think the book is a true reflection of the life that was in Kenya back then. So I can’t blame the author for the portrayal of blacks as simple minded beings, who are happy to just work at the farm or some clerical work, or in other words, are “kitchen totos“. In fact, Sarah in the story wrestles with her conscience over this treatment of the natives, and perhaps this is how the authors attempt to redeem themselves.
Away from such, the story was moving and emotionally involving. The farm, the weather, the animals and everything about Kenya is described so lovingly and you realize that yes, East or West, Kenya is the best.
After school, Hannah has to leave Kenya to go Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) because her family has to flee Kenya for something her father did. Camilla flies to Europe and goes to college there, before embarking on a glamorous modelling career in London. However, in her heart she longs for the sunshine of Kenya and the wildness of the country. Sarah goes to study biology at a university in Dublin, as Sarah’s brother Tim studies medicine. Like Camilla, Sarah misses home a lot, home for her will always be Kenya.
Sarah is also in love with Pete, Hanah’s sister, although he never notices her. Well, not until towards the end of the book. There are many other supporting characters, it’s not just about the girls but all their parents as well.
The years are slipping by (it’s 3 years after school and they are now 21), and Sarah wonders if or when she will ever come back to Kenya and to Pete, the man she loves. Hannah is wondering if she will forever get stuck in Rhodesia, as her father works as a farmhand for a relative, instead of his own farm at Langani, Kenya. They are not as well off now and she can’t afford college, let alone travelling. She also misses home a lot. Camilla is wondering if modelling was the career she is stuck with, because she always wanted to be an actress.
The plot then has some twists and turns as Hannah finds her way back to Kenya after fighting with her father, Sarah also finds a way back home to the man she loves, and Camilla also returns on a safari, only to fall in love with Anthony Chapman, a safari guide. She doesn’t want to go back to cold London. What will happen next? It’s cliff-hanging, is all I can say.
Well, do read and find out. I am currently searching
for cash for the second book of the trilogy: “A Durable Fire” and finally, “In Borrowed Light“. I do love stories that span across decades, they leave a tug of nostalgia that will always stay with you, because you feel you know the characters, you own the characters.