The Thief of Words
By Starling Lawrence
Quantuck Lane Press, Hardcover, 9781593720506, 224pp.
Publication Date: March 2013
List Price: $24.95*
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Young, and full of an unfathomed desire to immerse herself in Africa, Nora Fenton arrives as a volunteer in a coastal village in Sierra Leone: an American innocent, an accident waiting to happen. She has little understanding of the turbulence in her heart, of the complexities of race and religion in this place, or the hidden politics of the diamond trade. The layered account of her love affairs -- prickly Aurelia, a South African refugee; soft-spoken, green-eyed Morlai -- is interspersed with the confession by a writer named Owen of his doomed love for Nora years later in New York. In the angles between these characters lies a kaleidoscope of hidden stories and half-truths, wherein simplicity is fractured into unbearable complexity. And throughout, Owen's voice masterful, elegant, and yet unhinged by loss casts a spell, drawing us in and ratcheting up the intensity until we arrive at the devastating final chapters.