I enjoyed the historical storyline in A Kind Of Light. Thomasina is an interesting character and I appreciated Keating's detailed and evocative descriptions of the Congolese Forest in the nineteenth century. I found it easy to envisage the incredible land Thomasina traversed and the people she met. Unfortunately her journey only makes up half of this short novel and the present-day (at the time the book was written) narrative didn't work well for me. It does have a few good characters, but these are in supporting roles and not the two leads. Theresa, known as Tom, and her colleague-partner David spend most of their time talking in odd swathes of dialogue that I didn't find at all convincing. Their journey in Thomasina's footsteps was perpetually overshadowed by lengthy conversations about whether or not they should get married. Overall, A Kind Of Light passed an afternoon and there were enough engaging elements to the book to keep me reading. However, in comparison to Heart Of Darkness, this book doesn't come anywhere close to the classic's power and atmosphere.
H R F Keating’s A Kind of Light is an effective homage to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Two stories are told simultaneously. The first details Thomasina le Mesurier and her journal entries that record her discovery of a miraculous plant that has the potential to save lives. The second takes place in the present of the 1980s, with a young couple that stumble upon Thomasina’s diary and set off on their own journey in hopes of following in her footsteps. When engulfed in Tom and David’s journey, the constant dialogue became hard to follow at times and was sometimes trivial and off topic – for example, David’s proposals and discussions about marriage. I much preferred Thomasina’s effective and endearing descriptions of the forest. Thus, it is those descriptions of Thomasina’s journey and findings that I believe show Keating doing justice to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.