So my aim this year is to try very hard (now don’t laugh) to not buy any new books for 6 months hahaha OK, maybe 3 months 😁. Instead I am going to go through the ridiculous amount of of books I have sitting on my numerous bookshelves and waiting on my kindle.
My first read of the new year was a book I picked up in November at the WCFF by local author Michelle Diener.
This is an historical romance set in 1878 in Zululand during the invasion of the Victorian Empire. It is I have learnt, the invasion that was the beginning of the end for Zululand. For even though the British were thoroughly defeated, they could not allow this to stand and returned to annihilate them the following year.
It was an interesting setting for an historical romance novel and one that appealed due to that difference. I read historical fiction to learn more about times and places in a way I can relate to others. This book certainly met those expectations
We first meet Lindani who saves a young white girl Elizabeth /Indoni from a ship wreck. She is taken into their tribe and becomes one of their family and their people. When war is brought to Zululand, Elizabeth’s future is in doubt. To prove herself she is tasked with infiltrating the British camp.
As Elizabeth pretends to be a boy and gets to know the men, especially Jack who figured out from the start she was a woman, the lines become blurred in her desire to destroy the British. Her true loyalty though continues to be the Zulu nation who are her true people. However the relationship she develops with Jack becomes anything but easy.
This was a fantastic story of loyalty, pride and love of a strong nation who could not understand why they were being invaded, but who would fight for their homeland regardless. It is a great story of love despite the odds in a time and place between two people who should never have met let alone fallen in love. The choices these characters make and the feelings they wrestle with I could completely empathise with. We see both sides of the battle, the death, destruction and the way both sides follow orders though both for different reasons. I know my heart was definitely on the side of the Zulu people.
Michelle Diener has done a great job of portraying these characters as flawed but totally real. She grew up in Kwa-Zulu Natal and says she grew up with the history of the place from a small child, this was a very personal story for her and her research was vast. I highly recommend this novel.