Once to Every Man
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The lives of three diverse protagonists, the young daughter of white missionaries from the United States, a white photo-journalist from England and a black native African, evolve in the political turmoil of the fifties and sixties in Tanganyika. Why they are in that country and what they seek personally, unrelated in the beginning, becomes increasingly dependent on and resolvable only inside their surprising and complex relationship. Spiritual, racial and cultural barriers threaten and divide them, but there is one thing between them that cannot be shaken and brings them to the harrowing edge of every choice they have made and every tenet they have believed. Their journey takes them through the wild savannahs and forests of East Africa to England and the United States and ultimately ends in 1985 in Dar es Salaam, where in Part Two they are reconciled in their long search for a “haven of peace.”
Praise for Once to Every Man…
“Three very different lives intersect against the backdrop of racial and cultural tension in 1960s Africa.
Reena Pavane, a young missionary, is helping spread Christianity to East African natives. One day, she’s pulled out of her village and evacuated via helicopter by the British journalist Jim Stone. Despite numerous obstacles—age difference, Jim’s marriage and his malaria—the two fall in love. When Jim, on an assignment in the jungle, is taken prisoner by militants, Reena follows closely behind to bring him his malaria medication. Dakimu Reiman, a young African, helps her on the journey but finds himself torn between wanting to help Reena and Jim and wanting to hate them because of what white people have done to his fellow Africans. Eventually, Dakimu falls in love with Reena as well, which tears at his conscience further; should he steal Reena from Jim or make her happy by bringing Jim safely out of the jungle? The trials and tribulations that the trio goes through take them across three continents and multiple decades, as they confront their feelings for each other on personal, spiritual and racial levels. The stakes are high, the material heavy and the characters complex; even the good Christian girl Reena, who occasionally seems too sweet, commits a few remorseful actions. Cain conveys her knowledge and passion for her subject, though the novel would benefit from more historical context and detail to enhance the vivid portrait of Africa at a turbulent time in its history… “
– Kirkus Review
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“The message is powerful, the characters believable, and the conflicts real - historically and psychologically.”
– Nelda Kendall, J