Books I am reading

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Local Customs by Audrey Thomas

Local Customs is a story set in the 1830's and is based on true events. 

Letitia Landon is a lady of limited means who has turned her love of writing into a way of supporting her family, gaining a certain amount of notoriety in her time. She has enjoyed an active social life, but as she reaches age 36, becomes concerned that she will end up an old woman living alone with her cat.
In walks George Maclean, home on leave from his position as the governor of Cape Coast Castle on the Gold Coast of West Africa (now Ghana). In very short order, they marry, and leave for the Gold Coast. Letty dies within 8 weeks of arriving in Africa. She does not have any obvious illness, insect or snake bite, but everyone has a theory about what happened.
This book is written from the viewpoint of Letty, after she has died, and several of the people around her, including George, her female companion, a local missionary, and another governor in the area. Some people did not like the style of moving from one person to another, but I liked "seeing" the situation from different points of view.
I found the book well-written and fascinating in the descriptions of the times, ideas, beliefs and behaviors. It also reinforced  my wonder at how colonial countries could really believe they were "improving" the lives of the people they conquered.
I give it a 4 Star rating. If you like historic settings, and novels based on real events and people, you will enjoy this book. I personally did not like that a definitive answer was not given as to how Letty died, but that's my personal hang-up for leaving things hanging.