Review: The Civilized World

Why I picked it: I was offered a review copy of this book and quickly accepted after reading the synopsis, learning the story is set in Africa, and discovering that the author lived in Africa (experiences to draw upon).

Synopsis: A glorious literary debut set in Africa about five unforgettable women—two of them haunted by a shared tragedy—whose lives intersect in unexpected and sometimes explosive ways.

When Adjoa leaves Ghana to find work in the Ivory Coast, she hopes that one day she'll return home to open a beauty parlor. Her dream comes true, though not before she suffers a devastating loss—one that will haunt her for years, and one that also deeply affects Janice, an American aid worker who no longer feels she has a place to call home. But the bustling Precious Brother Salon is not just the "cleanest, friendliest, and most welcoming in the city." It's also where locals catch up on their gossip; where Comfort, an imperious busybody, can complain about her American daughter-in-law, Linda; and where Adjoa can get a fresh start on life—or so she thinks, until Janice moves to Ghana and unexpectedly stumbles upon the salon.

At once deeply moving and utterly charming, The Civilized World follows five women as they face meddling mothers-in-law, unfaithful partners, and the lingering aftereffects of racism, only to learn that their cultural differences are outweighed by their common bond as women. With vibrant prose, Susi Wyss explores what it means to need forgiveness—and what it means to forgive.

Type: Fiction

Quick Take: I adored this novel.  It's told in short stories but after you read the first 4-5 stories the characters start to reappear.  The story is told in bits but leaves the reader completely satisfied with the ending of the story. 

I enjoyed Comfort and Linda, the MIL relationship can be a tough one without having to deal with cultural differences and traditions that they face.  It was interesting to learn about the importance of shaping a babies forehead to African culture/tribes.

I found myself comparing this novel to The Canterbury Tales, in that a lesson is told in each story that the reader can explore/discuss. 

This novel is beautifully written, the author is a wonderful storyteller.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Country: Ghana/Ethiopia
Source: Review Copy

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