Leopard at the Door – Jennifer McVeigh

Rachel at 18 has decided to go back to the home she knows in Kenya.

After spending the last 6 years in England away from her father and still very much grieving for her mother, Rachel simply wants to go home.

But the home she is going to doesn’t exist anymore.

It is 1952, the world is changing. Queen Elizabeth has just come to the throne, and the empire is slowly breaking apart and moving away to be independent.

As in Kenya, the Mau Mau are playing a strong role in disturbing the peace and not in a peaceful way. Rachel thinks it is al rumours until she finally reaches her family farm.

Her father warned her not to come, maybe because he knew the risks and the danger ahead and maybe because he had not told her about Sara.

Sara now lives with Rachel’s father along with her son Harold. Sara makes no secret of her dislike of the natives and how she wants to return to some sort of civilised world. Nor does she hide her dislike of Rachel.

Rachel is shocked, the people she grew up with, the cook Jim, her childhood friend Michael are now kept on the periphery of the farm. This is not the world she left behind.

This book places you in the centre of the Kenya uprising and shows a small part of what went on with the rise of the Mau Mau. I knew very little about it, the name synonymous with violence and death but little else. This brought to life the magnificence of the African landscape, the desolation, the heat, the vast expanse, peppered with shots of violence, some of it made me want to stop reading the book. But I had to learn more about Rachel’s life and more about a turbulent time in British and Kenyan History.

I didn’t know where this book was going to lead me and although I had worked out one of the outcomes for Rachel, I did not predict the rest and it opened my eyes.

For fans of Dinah Jefferies or Julia Gregson then this book will appeal to you. Well written and taking a rather difficult and political subject and sparking your interest about it all through the wonder of historical fiction. What more can you ask from a book?

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read the book.

Leopard at the Door is out now. 

One thought on “Leopard at the Door – Jennifer McVeigh

  1. I read this a while ago and had similar feelings about it. The violence and brutality made it difficult to read at times, but I knew nothing about the Mau Mau rebellion so I learned a lot from it. I agree with the Dinah Jefferies comparison.

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