Official Synopsis from Goodreads: After six years in England, Rachel has returned to Kenya and the farm where she spent her childhood, but the beloved home she’d longed for is much changed. Her father’s new companion—a strange, intolerant woman—has taken over the household. The political climate in the country grows more unsettled by the day and is approaching the boiling point. And looming over them all is the threat of the Mau Mau, a secret society intent on uniting the native Kenyans and overthrowing the whites.
As Rachel struggles to find her place in her home and her country, she initiates a covert relationship, one that will demand from her a gross act of betrayal. One man knows her secret, and he has made it clear how she can buy his silence. But she knows something of her own, something she has never told anyone. And her knowledge brings her power.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: early 1950s Kenya
***I received an eARC from G.P. Putnam’s Sons via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***
Review: Beautiful historical fiction with a stunning setting and memorable characters. Enjoyable and a conversation piece!
Leopard at the Door was a wonderful read. The setting of early 1950s Kenya was fascinating, and Jennifer McVeigh has done excellent research that is seamlessly woven into the narrative of the book. I don’t recall any large sections that were devoted to “info-dumping”, which is so prevalent in historical fiction books. Kenya is a character in this novel, and what a haunting, beckoning character she is! Leopard at the Door will make you want to visit Kenya and see Mount Kenya looming in the distance, and feel the heat of the sun, and wander around in the danger of the bush.
Our main character is Rachel, who returns to Kenya at age eighteen after spending the past six years in England, after her mother died. Her father, who lives in Kenya, has a new partner, Sara, and I thought Sara was absolutely fascinating. Sara is not a “good” person, she is difficult and has strong opinions, but I found her and her story intriguing and sad. This is the mark of an excellent author – to make an unlikable character compelling.
Rachel, our main character, was also a great read. I really liked her. She was strong and opinionated, and didn’t back down. She goes through some difficult circumstances in the book, but her story was also full of much beauty and love. I really thought she had a beautiful love story, and was invested in her and her love, and wanted them to succeed together. As his name is not mentioned in the synopsis, I won’t mention it here, as I went into the book not knowing what the main romance would be, and I liked watching it unfold. I really thought the love story was beautiful and well done.
A big part of this book has to do with the Mau Mau Uprising, and I confess to not knowing anything about this until I read Leopard at the Door. So I thought this was an important read and was informative about British colonialism. And since Queen Elizabeth II had her coronation in 1953, that event is mentioned here and I thought the scenes mentioning her coronation and the build up to it (as seen by those in Kenya) were fascinating.
I think that Leopard at the Door would make an excellent book club discussion book. There are many characters to go into, many plots to pick apart, and many social issues to discuss. And of course, that ending and the decisions made would be a great discussion topic as well.
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction!
Bottom Line: Beautiful setting. Fascinating characters. A great read! I rated this book 5 stars on Goodreads.
Does this sound like a great read? Are you interested in early 1950s Kenya?