Book Review – When Hoopoes Go To Heaven

by Gaile Parkin (Corvus) ISBN: 9780857894090

After Baking Cakes in Kigali, Parkin has written a novel that is set in Swaziland. Just like her previous book, Parkin writes with attention to detail and her descriptions appealed to my imagination. Underlying is a theme about the consequences of HIV/AIDS in Swaziland.

Benedict, a young boy, has moved with his Tanzanian family to Swaziland. He worries about the people around him, especially his mother Angel, who misses the previous posting in Rwanda, where she had a flourishing cake business. Benedict comes up with a brilliant plan to help her.

The novel is written from his viewpoint and alternates with the voice of Mavis, the domestic help from Swaziland. If you have read Parkin’s previous book, the family is familiar, but it is not a sequel. I battled slightly with Benedict’s voice, that is sometimes too wise for his age and sometimes too young, but overall it was a sweet story, which reminded me of the Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective series.

People who don’t know all the African traditions will learn from this book. Others will recognise them and relate to the stories.

Pauline Vijverberg

Posted on: 7th June 2012