I have been excited about reading A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn since first hearing about it. Since she is already responsible for creating two of my all-time favorite characters, I had high expectations for what she could accomplish with a story set in 1920s Kenya. Overall? It was pretty darn good.
Unfortunately, A Spear of Summer Grass and I didn’t get off to the best start. Delilah Drummond is NOT a likable gal in the beginning. Trying to relate to her? Forget about it. The beginning of the book shows her involved in one scandal too many and being more or less banished from Paris to Kenya until things die down. The first thing I fell in love with was the setting – Deanna Raybourn makes Kenya glorious and the Fairlight plantation where Delilah is staying really comes to life.
Delilah heads to Africa planning on carrying on with her frivolous life without a hitch. However, things in Kenya are not what they seem and her priorities gradually change as the book progresses. The key word here is GRADUALLY. That sums up everything I feel about A Spear of Summer Grass. It grew on me GRADUALLY. Delilah herself grew on me GRADUALLY. So on and so forth.
She becomes steadily more invested in local business and the locals themselves. Her long (and well) buried sensitivity starts to show – she ends up doing some surprisingly selfless things.
Also? This is Deanna Raybourn, creator of Brisbane, so OF COURSE there is swoon. Ryder White is a pretty complex guy – trying to pin down his motivations is not an easy task. Seeing Delilah and Ryder together is dynamite, they argue and butt heads and spark off each other like crazy. It isn’t exactly a normal relationship progression since Delilah is mostly INFURIATING (and has no qualms about sleeping around for that matter), but it is crazy fun to read nonetheless.
I will say that there is one major aspect of the story that starts strong and stays strong, and that is the writing. Deanna Raybourn never lets me down in that regard. There was one piece of dialogue in particular that struck me:
“You have always been dazzling – the life of every party, the glamour girl who dances until dawn.”
“Well, I am. But I’m dancing on broken glass. I’m Miss Havisham’s wedding cake, Kit. A frothy, expensive, mice-eaten confection. I’m the Sphinx’s nose, the fallen Colossus. I’m a beautiful ruin, and it’s time that has done the deed.”
Or, in another format:
Ultimately, while I did end up enjoying the book, I’ll definitely still be recommending my much beloved Lady Julia series to readers new to Deanna Raybourn.
To Sum it Up:
- Delilah is one of the most infuriating characters I’ve ever come across. Girl has issues. But, once I got to know her I couldn’t help but root for her anyway…
- The writing = top notch. The line “I’m Miss Havisham’s wedding cake” gives me chills from the awesome.
- The swoons? More than satisfactory. Ryder White is nothing if not a man’s man.