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Undiscovered Country

by Christina Koning

Set in Venezuela's expatriate community in the 1950s, this is a vivid portrait of a distant, pampered world as seen through the eyes of an eleven-year old girl. It's a world which revolves round cocktail parties, casual affairs and malicious gossip, but the presence of a Dutch couple, refugees from a terrible war in Europe, merely serves to emphasise the emptiness of the community's existence. Written with great poignancy, this is a powerful evocation of how it must have felt to be a young British girl growing up in an alien, tropical environment on the fringes of a barely understood adult world.

Extract

It's half-past five and Jack's on his way to work. He loves this time of day: the sun coming up and the sensation of being the only one around to see it. Watching the sky change from deepest black to purplish-grey growing gradually lighter and lighter until the clouds are as pink as a woman's cheek. The empty red dirt road stretching ahead as far as the eye can see - no-one else on the road but himself; the harsh cry of a cara cara intensifying the quiet.
In this country, you were never far from the wilderness - even here, in the heart of the biggest oil operation in the world. You'd be driving along and suddenly it would hit you: you were alone nothing but emptiness around you.

Parallels

The Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden
The Go-Between by L P Hartley
White Mischief by James Fox
 

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