"The lieutenant crossed the corner, deep in thought. There would be a hard year ahead, and he hoped the little village of Bathurst would be left in peace."

Witt’s novel is set in Africa and begins in 1833. It is a story of war and peace, love and loss, the continual quest for a place to call one’s own, and the unending attempts by some to find a lasting peace between those born to the land and those drawn to it. The author skillfully walks a tightrope as she endeavors to faithfully convey the motivations and aspirations of both types of inhabitants. Rather than taking sides, she presents each. The result is enlightenment as well as entertainment.

Coti is a young African woman from the Khoikhoi tribe who meets and falls in love with Tshane, who is descended from the chief of the Xhosas. She becomes a spiritual leader as he assumes the responsibilities of leadership. Both are sorely tested as they seek to raise a family and run a village in a time of ongoing violence. Bentley is an English officer attempting to maintain a degree of peace among warring tribes, isolated homesteaders, and many Boers who have as much disdain for the British as they do for the Africans. As the narrative unfolds, all three of the principal characters’ lives intertwine as the years become filled with danger, pain, and sorrow but also happiness, joy, and fulfillment.

Witt fills her story with incredibly detailed enactments of cultural and religious ceremonies practiced by African tribes. Her vivid depictions of weddings, feasts, sacrifices, and more add an engrossing aura of authenticity to this tale of adventure. A writer confident in her sense of place and her storytelling capabilities, she has penned a novel that will appeal to those who enjoy learning as much as reading.

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