Monday, January 20, 2014

Blog Tour for A Different Sun by Elaine Neil Orr

TitleA Different Sun
Author: Elaine Neil Orr (website)(Facebook)
Pages: 379
Publisher: Penguin
Source: review copy for blog tour
Rating: 4/5
Tour Schedule: click here

Summary from Goodreads:

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. When Emma Davis reads the words of Isaiah 6:8 in her room at a Georgia women’s college, she understands her true calling: to become a missionary. It is a leap of faith that sweeps her away to Africa in an odyssey of personal discovery, tremendous hardship, and profound transformation.

For the earnest, headstrong daughter of a prosperous slave owner, living among the Yoruba people is utterly unlike Emma’s sheltered childhood—as is her new husband, Henry Bowman. Twenty years her senior, the mercurial Henry is the object of Emma’s mad first love, intensifying the sensations of all they see and share together. Each day brings new tragedy and heartbreak, and each day, Emma somehow finds the hope, passion, and strength of will to press onward. Through it all, Henry’s first gift to Emma, a simple writing box—with its red leather-bound diary and space for a few cherished keepsakes—becomes her closest confidant, Emma’s last connection to a life that seems, in this strange new world, like a passing memory.

A tale of social and spiritual awakening; a dispatch from a difficult era at home and abroad; and a meditation on faith, freedom, and desire, A Different Sun is a captivating fiction debut.

The historical aspect of this novel was a huge selling point but what attracted me the most was the African setting. It is a character on its own. The landscape and the wildlife is so lushly described that I felt as if I were there.

After Henry speaks at Emma's church to raise money for his mission work, they begin a courtship. They eventually marry and Emma beings her dream of helping the Africans. Her father owns slaves and she feels that this is wrong. Her heart is in the right place, I think, but she comes across as quite self righteous at times. I never connect with her or with Henry. Henry was a difficult man. I think that he really wanted to be God's light in the world but was full of himself. The way they spoke of God's work made it sound as if it were a chore. That they were doing God a favor.

My favorite character was Uncle Eli. I could have read the entire book about just him. He was full of love despite being an often mistreated slave. He loved Emma and his teaching helped her when no one else could touch her. I loved the way things came full circle with him.

I have gotten quite used to the faster paced books in science fiction and dystopians and A Different Sun is a slow read. The language is dense and the font size and setting made it even slower for me. The times that I enjoyed the story the most were those times when I was able to read for long chunks of time. Being able to settle into the story instead of dipping in and out reading a chapter or two really helped me acclimate to the richer language. 

Orr has a way with words and I found myself rereading certain sentences again. Two of my favorite quotes are:

"Lessons went toward the color of fabric for lining one's bonnets and where to turn one's eyes in the company of young men one might wish to marry. The answers were pink and downward"


"Your language is poetic, but I stopped listening to you a while back. Leave me alone so I can sleep."

Although I didn't really like the two main characters, the setting, the interesting story and beautiful writing made this one a really good read. If you love literary fiction, stories of missionaries or African settings, give A Different Sun a try. I look forward to seeing what else Orr writes.

1 comment:

  1. Those two sentences are beautiful! The first just makes my mind spin with what the author is saying, and the second made me laugh. :)

    Thanks for being on the tour!


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