Book Review: After the Rains by Emily BarrosoPosted by Chirundu Jason
After the Rains is described as an adventurous, dramatic novel that follows the coming of age of fictional Jayne Cameron with that of post-colonial Rhodesia as it morphs into the free Zimbabwe.
After the Rains is written in the first person by Emily Barroso and offers you a glimpse into the life of a young but spirited girl, Jayne ‘Jay’ Cameron during the difficult teenager years in a very real situation that many young white Rhodesian’s/Zimbabwean’s would of faced growing up during the civil war.
Like many people I know, she grew up playing with the farm worker’s children often forming special bonds. In Jay’s case he was called Enoch, whose family had worked for generations with the Cameron’s on a tea plantation.
Through the eyes of Jay, you are taken through the emotional turmoil often faced by young people trying to understand and put into perspective the feelings that they have whilst also curtailing to the accepted “rules” of society, all the while it is rapidly capsizing.
Throughout the book, the two families, one white and one black, struggle to deal with the inevitable change from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe, the battle for freedom as well as land, which inevitably culminates in violent action and betrayal.
After the Rains was a pleasure to read, especially as a Zimbabwean. I loved the language and use of words, many of which are unique to that area, period and are part of our history. Time after time, I would come across a word, phrase or saying that would bring back so many memories.
So whilst the book will obviously appeal to those of us from or who have lived in Zimbabwe and other parts of Southern Africa, the story is a universal one with its themes of land, loss, longing and redemption and the ability of the human spirit to overcome great odds, which we can all identify with. (By Sharon for Chirundu.com)
About the Author
Emily Barroso was born in Zimbabwe and after the bush war, her family moved to South Africa in 1980. This move really affected her and it was partly this sense of dislocation that inspired After the Rains.
Emily lived in South Africa from 1985-1986, and then moved to London where she has lived ever since. Until April 2009, Emily taught Creative Writing and Art in a therapeutic capacity to ex-offenders and those with a history of addiction or mental health issues.
Emily Barroso has been compared to writers such as Alexandra Fuller (Don’t Let’s Go To the Dogs Tonight) but realized she could write from an early age. With not much television to speak of in 70’s Zimbabwe, she quickly got through her parents bookshelves. She particularly enjoyed Wilbur Smith and Reader’s Digest compilations!
Her creative writing tutor at university advised her to do an MA in Creative Writing, and afterwards she was nominated the university’s writer of the future in order for her to be put up for the Jerwood/Arvon young writer’s apprenticeships, a national award, one of which she won.
Emily has written for open democracy online magazine on Zimbabwe and Burma and was a recipient of Jerwood/Arvon Young Writers’ Apprenticeship in 2004/5. She is married and has two children.
Where to buy After the Rains
More Reviews of the Book
Below are a few of the things that other people have been saying about the novel:
“I loved this book! A touching story told from the perspective of a young girl whose idyllic lifestyle in the post-colonial Rhodesia is turned upside down during the terrorist war in the 70′s when her family is forced to move from their farm into the safety of town. Sensitively written, I particularly liked the way the author managed to get the story across from the perspective of both sides, without judging, simply leaving the reader to conclude that there are never any real winners in a war.” (By PJB “Trish”)
‘After the Rains’ is a stark reminder of the pointlessness of war. Each side holds views and these views are a catalyst for justifiable murder and the destruction of family life. Emily Barroso brings Rhodesia to life in her novel and one can almost feel the hot sun and the beautiful landscape. This idealism is destroyed as the Rhodesian Civil War engulfs the country and the novel’s narrator, Jayne, is forced, after a terrorist attack, to flee her childhood and farm with her family. Barroso explores relationships between black and white, right and wrong, and the reader is left with a grey area called life and the fact that ‘It’s all vanity, it’s all an illusion, everything except that infinite sky’ (Tolstoy). A great novel and well worth reading. (Lindsay Jardine, The South African)
“After the Rains kept me involved to the final page. It was a really good read & I very quickly found myself back in Africa. There’s a good plot & the pace is varied, with great dialogue, humour & tragedy, as well as social & political history. I highly recommend this novel – especially to anyone with African connections.” (By josbooks)
‘Barroso’s treatment of the universal themes of love, loss and redemption through the eyes of a young girl on the cusp of adulthood is compelling, and her exploration of Zimbabwe’s land ownership struggles highlights an on-going source of tension.’ (The Zimbabwean)
“The descriptive power of this book that evoked long-dormant memories from my own Zimbabwean childhood unnerved me. The gripping story; woven with such beautiful imagery, perfectly capturing the essence of the beautiful land ravaged by war; stirred me very personally. I delighted in the narrative and revelled in the sensuous command of the description. Thank you for this wonderful book!” (By Charlotte O)
“I purchased this book as a gift. As a Zimbabwean I thoroughly enjoyed it. Great service, great condition and speedy delivery too. Thank you so much” (By Mrs. Sa Bekker – Amazon Customer)
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If you have read this book or any other book relating to Zimbabwe or Africa and would like to review it on Chirundu.com, please contact me as I would love to be able to include it on the site.