A Treacherous Paradise sees Henning Mankell turn his talents for writing gripping thrillers to a world where power and powerlessness meet and passion is a dangerous commodity.
Hanna Lundmark escapes the brutal poverty of rural Sweden for a job as a cook onboard a steamship headed for Australia. Jumping ship at the African port of Lourenço Marques, Hanna decides to begin her life afresh. Stumbling across what she believes to be a down-at-heel hotel, Hanna becomes embroiled in a sequence of events that lead to her inheriting the most successful brothel in town.
Uncomfortable with the attitudes of the white settlers, Hanna is determined to befriend the prostitutes working for her, and change life in the town for the better, but the distrust between blacks and whites, and the shadow of colonialism, lead to tragedy and murder.
©2011 Henning Mankell 2011, English translation copyright © Laurie Thompson 2013 (P)2013 Isis Publishing Ltd, Random House Audiobooks
I persevered with this novel after enjoying the beginning because I have
A high regard for Henning Mankell's other books. This tale is badly put together and is written in a ponderous style with awful dialogue and unconvincing characters. Even Sean Barrett can't bring the story to life.
Mankell needs to research tapeworms because part of the story is factually wrong. The magic realism and symbolism that kept occurring was unwelcome , making me lose faith in the authenticity of the story. I wish I hadn't stayed to the end of this unsatisfactory book. It was a waste of time and made me doubt the skill of the author. I think Mankell wanted a vehicle to make a powerful case against colonialism and racial injustice but It is essentially a children's book set in a colonial brothel so it completely misses the mark. I was very surprised that this book received so many positive reviews
as it is inferior to his other books.
Mankell has again done his excellent characterisation in a story that holds your attention from the start.
As always Sean Barrett narrates so well.
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