Wednesday, June 8, 2016

G711 Book Review of Beneath the African sun by Maria Lynch

Name of Book: Beneath the African Sun

Author: Maria Lynch

ISBN: 9781460274866

Publisher: FriesenPress

Type of book: Africa, Portugese Goa, racism, clothing, business, children/young adult novel, 1913-1970s, family, settling down, roots, married life, relationships

Year it was published: 2015


When Sabby Mendes leaves Portuguese Goa aboard the dhow Monsoon Wind bound for British East Africa in 1916, he has one dream-to find work as a tailor in the relatively new capital of Nairobi. Sabby is a young man, still a teenager, but he is determined to build a life for himself, and he knows that the opportunities in the British Protectorate are better than those facing him at home. A bright, affable young man with a genuine passion and talent for tailoring, he is not prepared for what he is about to find beyond the Arabian Sea. The Protectorate, which will become British Colony of Kenya, is a highly segregated society with the British firmly ensconced at its top; below them are the "Asians" like Sabby; and at the very bottom are the native African population who are regarded as little more than savages in need of civilization. Beneath the African Sun offers, through the eyes of its protagonist, a street-level view of the changing social and political climate of Kenya between 1916 and 1970, including the 'Mau Mau' Uprising of the native Kikuyu, the eventual independence of Kenya in 1963, and the political fallout that followed. More than a history, it is a story about family, home, social justice, and what it means to truly belong somewhere.


Besides the names the characters are not well drawn or well done for that matter. There is Sabby for whom everything works out perfectly and who doesn't offer glimpse into his own psychology as well as his wife, children, friends and family. Literally speaking, whatever Sabby decides is the right thing to do and works out with little to no conflict.


Africa is far more complex than originally thought


The story is in first person narrative from Sabby's point of view and is written in a very simple manner as well as language. While some authors are talented in creating complex stories using the simple language, (Pearl Buck for instance,) this is not the case. The book does not delve deeply into the thoughts and actions of characters as I hoped it would do, and some plots or story points went unresolved, for instance where one of Sabby's workers is having some issues, but Sabby never followed up on how those issues were resolved. I couldn't even connect to any of the characters, unfortunately and aside from the pervasive racism, there is very little conflict in Sabby's life. I also would have liked more dialogues between the characters which were literally non-existent.

Author Information:
(From PUYB)

  • Beneath the African Sun is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Meet the Author

Maria Lynch
Maria was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. After graduating from Dr. Ribeiro Goan School and with secretarial skills and her experience as a School Secretary she arrived in London, England in 1967 in the midst of “hippie world.” She studied at Pitman’s College for a Commercial Teacher’s Diploma which she successfully achieved in 1969. Due to the tenuous political situation in Kenya she had to find a new home. In the autumn of 1970 she emigrated to Canada in search of a home to put down her new roots. This she did with her husband, Tim who immigrated to Canada from South Wales, UK.
To Maria and Tim, Canada became a land of opportunity and new beginnings. In pursuit of these opportunities, they lived in Hamilton, Montreal, and Toronto. Tim pursued post graduate studies at the University of Toronto while Maria achieved a B.A. in Economics from York University followed by a B.Ed. from the University of Toronto. During this time, she and Tim nurtured their two sons. When they reached school age, Maria taught Business Studies’ courses  at high schools in the City of Toronto for fourteen years. In 1999 she achieved an M.A. (Leadership and Training) from Royal Roads University, British Columbia.
Maria is an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction books. The latter enables her to delve into her favorite topics of social justice issues, community development and philosophy. In 2009 she began blogging, visit This deepened her interest in writing novels and is author of Beneath the African Sun; for details She also enjoys nature trail walking and traveling.
For More Information

From the summary, I looked forward to reading the book because it promised a unique story and it takes place in Africa. When I started to read the novel, my excitement began plunging, especially when I realized that the writing style would not improve and that the book is all told and no show. From start to finish, the main character, Sabby, sounds almost childlike and seems to gain very little maturity as the years move on. I believe that the book might be perfect for young adult audience to teach them lessons on the complex history of Africa, or perhaps inspire them to see Africa differently, but for those that are seeking a complex tale of racism and how it plays into people's lives, I would mention in taking a pass on this book.

This is for Pump Up Your Book

Tour Schedule

Monday, May 2 – Interview at Literarily Speaking
Tuesday, May 3 – Guest Blogging at True Book Addict
Wednesday, May 4 – Interview at The Writer’s Life
Monday, May 9 – Interview at The Literary Nook
Wednesday, May 18 – Guest Blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner
Monday, May 23 – Interview at I’m Shelf-ish
Tuesday, May 24 – Book Feature at The Review From Here
Wednesday, May 25 – Guest Blogging at The Noise Beneath the Apple
Thursday, May 26 – Interview at Booklover Sue
Thursday, May 26 – Book Review at Deal Sharing Aunt
Friday May 27 – Book Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Friday, May 27 – Book Review at Worth Getting in Bed For
1 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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