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The Girl and the Sunbird

The Girl and the Sunbird: A beautiful, epic story of love, loss and hope - Rebecca Stonehill

Author: Rebecca Stonehill

Rating: 3 stars


Book Blurb: 


East Africa 1903: When eighteen year old Iris Johnson is forced to choose between marrying the frightful Lord Sidcup or a faceless stranger, Jeremy Lawrence, in a far-off land, she bravely decides on the latter.

Accompanied by her chaperone, Miss Logan, Iris soon discovers a kindred spirit who shares her thirst for knowledge. As they journey from Cambridgeshire to East Africa, Iris’s eyes are opened to a world she never knew existed beyond the comforts of her family home. 

But when Iris meets Jeremy, she realizes in a heartbeat that they will never be compatible. He is cold and cruel, spending long periods of time on hunting expeditions and leaving Iris alone. 

Determined to make the best of her new life, Iris begins to adjust to her surroundings; the windswept plains of Nairobi, and the delightful sunbirds that visit her window every day. And when she meets Kamau, a school teacher, Iris finds her calling, assisting him to teach the local children English. 

Kamau is everything Jeremy is not. He is passionate, kind and he occupies Iris’s every thought. She must make a choice, but if she follows her heart, the price she must pay will be devastating.


What drew me to this book: I love the author. Her other book, The Poet's Wife, was a mesmerizing read.


The Good:  This was well written.  Iris is complex character- in the beginning she is immature. Extremely so. Her decisions as an eighteen year old are short sighted- as if she can't see past two feet in front of her. While frustrating, it fit her age and she was what she was. I point this out because the growth she's forced to go through as she reaped what she sowed was handled well on the page. The wisdom that comes from her chaperone and mentor pointing out hard truths struck a cord,  trying to teach her about interdependence. I was nodding with Iris' realization that no, child, you can't just do what you want and not have it affect others. Ya need to grow up.


Also I enjoyed the setting, Africa in 1903.  I like historical fiction set in unusual places and times. 


The Bad:   Dang, if this wasn't depressing. You know as you're reading this, it can't possibly end well. A character you grow attached to is suddenly gone and it is described as almost an afterthought. I had to read the passage twice, it was so jolting. Also the transitions in the later half of the book weren't as smooth. You jump drastic amounts of years between pages at times. 


Overall it was a good read but a depressing one. I did not like this one as much as her last book, but I would read another book by this author.