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A treacherous paradise [sound recording]
Mankell, Henning
Adult Fiction MANKELL

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bookwoman_cat said:
*** 1/2 stars. I love Mankell's Wallander series, so at first I was disappointed to discover that this book is a departure from his Swedish detective series. This stand alone novel is largely set in Mozambique during the early years of the 20th century. Cold and poverty define Hanna Renström’s childhood in remote northern Sweden. In 1904, at nineteen, she boards a ship for Australia in hope of a better life. Nothing prepares her for the life she will lead. After a brief marriage to a sailor, she becomes a widow. On impulse she leaves the ship and she checks in to a hotel, only to discover that it’s Lourenço Marques’s most prestigious brothel. After just a few weeks the brothel keeper, a man called Vaz, asks her to marry him, which she does. Then he also dies, and Hanna finds herself running the business in his place — with considerable aplomb and success. White colonists rule, and Hanna is expected to adopt their racism. She is isolated within white society by her profession and her gender, and, among the bordello’s black prostitutes, by her color. As Hanna’s story unfolds over the next several years in this “treacherous paradise,” she wrestles with a devastating loneliness. As her life becomes increasingly intertwined with the prostitutes’, she moves toward the moment when she will make a decision that defies all expectations. Mankell is an excellent writer who breaks from expectations with this book much as Hanna does. Recommend
posted Sep 3, 2013 at 1:35AM
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