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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Scent of Oranges by Joan Zawatzky


Linda returns to the family orange farm in South Africa to attend her father's funeral. She is drawn back to her past, to the striking beauty of her homeland and the people who still live and work there, but her country is vastly different. A democratic government has emerged from the shame of apartheid, yet it's a violent land where extreme poverty, AIDS and TB exist alongside western affluence and where beliefs in ancestral spirits and voodoo still linger below the surface.

Her father's last wish was for Linda to investigate the murder of her youngest brother and the guilt of those accused. Ghosts of the past guide her search as she seeks the dangerous truths behind each new lead. As the lies unravel, her family will be dishonored, a shameful past will be revealed and yet there is great hope for reconciliation and the future.

My thoughts:

Considering I do mostly Christian fiction reviews on this blog I should say that this is a general market book and I am reviewing it for what it is.

The Scent of Oranges gives a wonderful insight to the culture of South Africa and the changes that have been taking place there. Linda had intended to only return for her father's funeral but when his last wishes are for her to investigate the murder of her brother that happened decades earlier she gets more out of her visit than she could have imagined.

As she digs into the past, the more she uncovers hidden truths the more confused and baffled she becomes. It all seems to be a dead end, but when her life is threatened she knows she must be on the right track. What she didn't expect, though, was to discover family secrets she knew nothing about. These secrets also lead her to question certain family members' innocence.

I enjoyed reading The Scent of Oranges. It provided an interesting perspective and I was captivated by the search for Linda's brother's killer. For my Christian readers I should note that there was some harsh profanity, mostly in the last half of the book, and the main character interacts with ghosts.

As a whole I was intrigued by the storyline and the uniqueness of the characters. It was fascinating to be taken to a new place into a culture so different from everything I have known. I was just as curious as Linda as she continued to push through dead ends and as she discovered astonishing things about her family. The ending did not disappoint.

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