A Spear of Summer Grass. by Deanna Raybourn
Published by Harlequin 2013
Delilah Drummond has finally done it! After the suicide death of husband number three and her staunch refusal to return the family jewels to her late husband’s family, her family can bear no more. And what do you do with a rabble rouser like Delilah in 1920’s Paris? Why of course…ship her off to Africa, out of the watchful eye of the press and away from the scandal that will drag the whole family down. It’s not so bad, her step father has a small manor house there, and with doughty cousin Dora along to mind her, how could she possibly get into any more mischief?
Delilah arrives at Fairlight, a falling down dream, wasting away in Kenya, a mere skeleton of what it could have, what it should have been. As newly appointed head of this estate, Delilah begins to take pleasure in what little Kenya seems to offer, starting with former love interest and painter Kit Parrymore. Parrymore, whom the natives call ‘Peacock’ stands as almost exact opposite to Ryder White, who becomes Delilah’s guide as she adjusts to life in her new surroundings. Delilah finds in Africa for the first time that she is actually starting to care about more than the latest sexual conquest or the latest silk dress. The natives, the animals, the estate all begin to soften this self proclaimed heartless woman.
As things begin to heat up on the African continent, and blood is spilt Delilah learns that some things are worth fighting for and what is truly important to her.
WOWZAS! Where to begin. This novel grabs you at page one…well no…Delilah grabs you at page one and pulls you along with her throughout this stunning book. For this reader, Delilah Drummond has become one of my favorite literary characters of this year. She’s like the Scarlett O’Hara of the Africa Savannah. Quick tempered, bold, sexy, seductive, intelligent, and flawed. She has a strength learned from her Louisiana Grandmother Miette, and a rare talent for finding and putting herself into the most delicious scandal time and again. Underneath that however, she is afraid of love, afraid to open her heart, and afraid to lose one more thing she’s given her heart too.
Its at Delilah’s arrival in Africa that we are introduced to Ryder White. So very much her equal in many ways, strong, handsome, bold, and with a heart the size of a lion. Also like Delilah he is equally flawed, nursing a hurt from a former love that has kept him from finding another.
The writing as Delilah and Ryder become acquainted draws you into the story and Raybourn’s quick wit and humor is perfectly suited to this beginning relationship
“I see my reputation has preceded me,” I said, smoothing my skirt primly over my knees.
“You’ve already made the betting book at the club,” he told me, holding me fast with those remarkable eyes.
“Have I, indeed? And what are the terms?”
“Fifty Pounds to whoever names the man who beds you first.” he stated flatly
“Tell me, who did you put your money on?”
He stretched his legs out to cross them at the ankle. He folded his arms behind his head and gave me a slow grin. “Why myself, of course.”
Delilah is one of those characters you can’t help getting caught up in. She is the type of person you’d either be thrilled to meet or cross to the other side of the street to avoid, either way, she’d catch your heart, and manages to do just that to every man and almost every woman in the novel.
The Title of this piece “A Spear Of Summer Grass” comes from the Walt Whitman poem Song Of Myself, and seems an apt choice for this novel. The poem begins:
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
This novel is definitely Delilah’s song , and it is much later in the book that Delilah also refers back to this poetry though indirectly…
The men stood back, chanting a song of one who would not be forgotten, of loved ones lost and returned to the earth, and of the land itself which does not die but is always born anew with each fall of the long rains. They chanted of life, which is short as a spear of summer grass or long as the heart of the Riff itself, and of the silent land tat waits beyond. The chanted of Africa.
This one is so well thought out, even down to the name of the main character, Delilah, the temptress and seductress from the Bible. Raybourn hits home on every note with this one. The plot (and I will not give the novel away), draws you in and offers up a brilliantly told tale of the lives of these misfits on the African coast that the world seems to have tossed away and forgotten.
You need to ask? Go get it, and read it already! Deanna Raybourn has hit it out of the park with this one, and has cinched herself a permanent home on my bookshelf. This one offers all the things you’d look for in a novel, and to be blunt, the strength of the writing of the main character sells this book.
Brilliant on all counts!
Perfect Choice, suits the title and novel.
A sixth generation native Texan, New York Times Best selling author Deanna Raybourn graduated from the university of Texas at San Antonio with a double major in English and history. She now lives in Virginia with her husband and daughter.
To learn more – visit http://www.deannaraybourn.com