In Search of Africa comes highly recommended. It has substance, story and fairly likeable characters. Though a little pretentious at times, the language is strong and usually consistent.
Kip Balmain is a little Australian boy living in Africa with his Mum and ‘auntie’, Kathleen. He has never met his father and is well acquainted with the hippo hide whip his mother seems to like more than her son. He spends his days avoiding his mother in his tree house or playing with his friend, a native African called Maina.
Ernie is a fighter pilot in World War II who wakes in a POW camp knowing no one. He makes friends with an African (enrolled as a British soldier), Zakayo, and the pair spend their days trying to forget their hunger and thinking about what awaits them in the outside world. Ernie dreams of meeting his son and finding the perfect lady.
Rose Nasonga is a native Kenyan who dreams of finding a better life away from her family. Her father is rarely at home and lives in a dream, her mother frets about her mentally ill sister and missing brother and the majority of her siblings lived in a self obsessed, materialistic world.
Maina is the only person who realises his connection with Kip. As he ages, he works his way into politics and becomes a powerful member of the government. He worries about the crimes he has committed to get at the amazing position he is at but is quietly confident that it will all work out.
Under the control of the dictator Idi Amin and a tarnished government the characters paths finally cross and they realise they have a lot more in common than anyone knows possible.
Somewhat predictable but definitely worth a read, even just for the history aspect. It really is fantastic and worthwhile, but at 620 pages and over 60 chapters…well…you have to be dedicated. It does get a bit confusing, especially towards the end when the characters become slightly inconsistent, but if you can forget that you have a book that is well worth the hassle.