Published by Viking on July 13th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Historical
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Stepping off the boat in Mombasa, eighteen-year-old Rachel Fullsmith stands on Kenyan soil for the first time in six years. She has come home.
But when Rachel reaches the family farm at the end of the dusty Rift Valley Road, she finds so much has changed. Her beloved father has moved his new partner and her son into the family home. She hears menacing rumours of Mau Mau violence, and witnesses cruel reprisals by British soldiers. Even Michael, the handsome Kikuyu boy from her childhood, has started to look at her differently.
Isolated and conflicted, Rachel fears for her future. But when home is no longer a place of safety and belonging, where do you go, and who do you turn to?
1950s colonial Kenya made for an atmospheric setting for Leopard at the Door, as Rachel returns home to place that is not the same as she once remembered. Jennifer’s writing about Kenya is beautifully moving and wonderfully descriptive. I honestly felt like I was standing next to Rachel.
At times Rachel is frustratingly and infuriatingly naive. It is obvious that she has lived a sheltered life and while it has protected her from some things it has left her exposed to others. She also has a huge secret from her childhood. One that could impact those around her. But she is afraid of revealing what she knows and worries about what will happen.
One thing that I really didn’t like the idea of Rachel’s love interest, the fact that that person had played a significant role in her childhood did make me negative to the idea, rather than endear me. I liked the idea that he protected Rachel, especially from Steven. A man who was creepy and basically a disgusting human being. His moral compass just didn’t seem to exist.
I wish that her father had done more to keep her in England and once she returned home to protect her. In m mind he was too weak to do so. Too afraid to upset Sara, that he ended up causing more problems. He never really explains what is going on in Kenya. Rachel has to rely on what she hears on the Radio. This means that our knowledge is also limited. I wish that I could have had more information on the Mau Mau and the political background. Like Rachel I ended up being confused and not completely understanding. But this did make me understand more of what Rachel was feeling.
Leopard at the Door is about love secrets and believing in yourself. In your decisions and the choices you have made. To stay strong and to not turn your back.
This is an absorbing read that will pull at your heart-strings, provide historical fact and lead you down a path you cannot forget.