The Leper Compound – Book Review

The Leper Compound by Paula Nangle

“The Leper Compound” is the story of Colleen, the daughter of a white Rhodesian settler. Colleen is growing up in Rhodesia around the time of the Rhodesian civil war and the creation of the state of Zimbabwe. This is Paula Nangle’s first novel and it is fantastic for a first novel. Nangle is clearly very familiar with her subject matter – she lived as a child in southern Africa with her missionary parents. Touching on racial tensions in both Zimbabwe and South Africa, Nangle’s book should challenge so many Americans who consider Africa to be a mono-culture.

All this being said, this book really just wasn’t for me. It was the moving story a girl growing up and searching for connection, about racial tensions and the aftermath of colonialism. Sounds like a great book for me, right? However, Nangle’s storytelling style just isn’t my favorite. Although the writing was beautiful, the story felt as if it was being told from a distance, as if Colleen never managed to attain a connection even with herself. Perhaps this is what Nangle was attempting and she is just that genius, or perhaps that is simply her style. It is not by any means a bad style, I just prefer a more personal method of story telling, one that is more in the head of the main character.

So although this book wasn’t for me, it might be for you. I am amazed that this is a first novel, and will definitely be looking to give Nangle’s next book a try.

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7 Responses to “The Leper Compound – Book Review”

  1. Melody Says:

    i think this is what feels “off” for me in “Free Food For Millionaires.” The story is definitely mostly focused on the protagonist, but since the narration is omniscient, it feels like the author’s not taking any sides, which makes it hard for me to identify w/ any of the characters. i have enjoyed omniscient narration in the past, but something about this book just isn’t doing it for me..

  2. Heather Says:

    If you like this time/place but not the author’s style, you should check out Alexandra Fullers books “Don’t Lets Go To The Dogs Tonight” and “Scribbling The Cat”. Odd titles, odd books, but utterly fascinating. I reviewed one of them here – let me know if it sounds interesting to you.

  3. Literate Housewife Says:

    The Camel Bookmobile falls into that category for me, mostly. I don’t know that I would readily pick up anything else by Masha Hamilton. I do think that the idea behind someone leaving their life in the US to run a bookmobile powered by camels in Africa is very interesting though.

  4. Natasha @ Maw Books Says:

    I’ve got this one coming to me in the mail right now. I hope that it “does’ it for me. It sounded like a story I would really like.

  5. lisamm Says:

    Hi Jen, I can’t get into it either. THank goodness it’s not just me!! I was beginning to worry.

  6. Devourer of Books Says:

    Heather – I left a message on your blog, but that book DOES sound amazing! Another one for the wishlist!

    Natasha – I hope “Leper Compound” ‘does’ it for you too. It is well done, I just couldn’t connect. Even with that, though, it was still good enough I never wanted to ditch it.

  7. kegsoccer Says:

    Hmm kinda reminds me of that movie “The Interpreter” a bit. Too bad you couldn’t get into it, but it sounds like you weren’t alone.

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