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The Palaver Tree

4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  40 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Africa: Beautiful, serene ... and dangerous

Lives and fortunes change in the blink of an eye.

After suffering a terrible tragedy in her home town, Ellie Hathaway is offered an opportunity she can’t resist. A teaching position in a remote African village, through The Hope Foundation, run by the enigmatic Gabriel Cole.

But dark forces and ambitions were in play long before Elli
Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published January 24th 2012 by Kindle Direct Publishing
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 328)
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Anne OK
Jun 11, 2012 Anne OK rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Anne OK by: A Goodreads recommendation
Shelves: 2012-reads

“The Palaver Tree” is an impressive and unique discovery by this new-to-me author. Within the pages of her first book in the “Berriwood” series, Wendy Unsworth writes in defining details a stunning story of betrayal, danger and love as readers travel from a small village in Cornwall, England to the hot and impoverished lands of Africa where political tensions are running high.

Ellie Hathaway, a recently widowed teacher, volunteers for a position with the Hope Foundation prom
Nikki Bywater
Oct 13, 2012 Nikki Bywater rated it it was amazing
Ellie Hathaway and Diane Henderson are close friends, who live in the village of Berriwood in Cornwall. Diane enjoys doing community and charity work. She holds charity lunches to promote a charity called The Hope Foundation. The charity is run by a man called Gabriel Cole and the charity provides sponsors for children to attend a school in Africa that the charity runs. Tiffany is Gabriel’s girlfriend and she helps run the charity’s office in London.

After a family tragedy Ellie decides to go out
Pearson Moore
Title: The Palaver Tree
Author: Wendy Unsworth
Genre: Mainstream Fiction
Length: 120,000 words (estimated)
Reviewer: Pearson Moore
Rating: 2.5 stars


British aid workers get caught up in a web of conspiracy, corruption, and power struggles in a Central African republic. Unsavory swindlers take advantage of political corruption to plunder charitable organizations and ruin lives. The Palaver Tree tells a story of personal tragedy and loss in the lives of Ellie Hathaway of Cornwall and several Cent
Paul Howard
Mar 01, 2014 Paul Howard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Palaver Tree is an interesting tale set in a Small Cornish village and a dusty, hot country in Africa. The central story focuses on four women, all of whom are the victims of an unscrupulous mountebank who uses an African Children’s charity as a front for his schemes. He is a stinker from the start and we watch in amazement as he continues, successfully, to scam them out of wealth, love and trust.
The central character, Ellie, has lost her husband in an auto accident and accepts a teaching po
Jun 27, 2012 Jacqui rated it really liked it
I loved this book. It is well written I usually don't like to switch viewpoints of characters while reading, but Wendy Unsworth made it flow seamlessly. The story was amazing, the emotions flying I was on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what happened next. I have recommended this book to all of my friends I believe any book reader no matter their preferred genre would love this book.
Angie ~aka Reading Machine~
Ellie Hathaway and Diane Henderson are best friends that share a love for charity work. The Hope Foundation run by Gaberiel Cole seems like a perfect for Ellie after mother's passing. John was in a fatal hit and run accident where there are no leads on who did it. Devastated by both her mother and John's passing, Ellie needs to do something and Gaberiel Cole has just the thing a teaching position in Dunca, Africa. Ellie is excited about her teaching post that will last a year. Meanwhile in the L ...more
Christoph Fischer
Jan 18, 2013 Christoph Fischer rated it it was amazing
I received "The Palaver Tree" by Wendy Unsworth in exchange for an honest review. It is probably one of the books submitted to me for a review that I was looking forward to the most. The subject matter of charity work and life in Africa is right up my alley and I have also had several short and long trips to Africa to take even more of an interest. The book follows several women, some in the UK and some in Africa, and their connections with each other. Each of them has their own personal backgro ...more
Jonel Boyko
Jul 03, 2013 Jonel Boyko rated it it was amazing
This novel is an intricately woven tale that pulls you in and really makes you think, without ever leaving you confused. Although there are a few ‘I didn’t see that coming’ moments in this novel, there’s never a point in time where you find yourself thinking ‘where did that come from?’

There is a clarity to Unsworth’s writing that underlies the tension and suspense of her brilliant storyline. Rather than relying on explosions, chases, and high impact situations the author approaches suspense in
Feb 01, 2013 Evilicious rated it really liked it

A good book with the potential for true greatness

This book is one that creeps up on you. It starts off slowly, drawing you into the lives of the characters, then bam, you suddenly feel as though you are there, experiencing it. From the quiet country town of Berriwood, Cornwall, to the great sweeping plains of Africa.

The author has an incredible gift with words that becomes more obvious the further into the book you get. She has a real skill with creating vivid descriptions in remarkably few word
The Palaver Tree provides readers a glimpse into Africa. For those who haven't been, Wendy's detailed and rich descriptions should transport you right there. For those who have spent time there (like me!) it will dredge up memories of the amazing country in full colour and splendor.

I liked the complexity of the deception and the twisted logic of the antagonist. It was all rather cold-hearted and calculating. The kicker in the end, I must admit, did cross my mind at the beginning of the book, but
Wall-to-wall books - wendy
Jan 15, 2016 Wall-to-wall books - wendy rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars!

Wow, this was a VERY powerful powerful book! This book was almost two different books for me because the last half of the book was so different. In the beginning I was thinking of giving the book a 3 rating at best, it was a little slow and it took me a while to really get a feel for the characters (and there were a lot of characters). Then finally around page 60 the characters started to take on personalities and I really started to get to know them. By the time I was half way throug
L.H. Thomson
Jun 27, 2012 L.H. Thomson rated it it was ok
I found myself struggling through The Palaver Tree, a novel with many good ideas that is let down by its unnecessary girth and a few other fatal flaws.

The story of a woman who takes an opportunity after a tragedy to offer something positive by teaching in Africa, the book is earnest, and contains occasional moments of promising style.

But the prose is sometimes tortured and there are syntactic issues throughout. The characters are (mostly) likeable but narrowly drawn, and I was not caught by sur
Darlene Jones
Jul 26, 2012 Darlene Jones rated it it was amazing
Subtle, direct, gentle, and jarring, The Palaver Tree takes the reader on an incredible journey from the safety of small town England to the dangers of Africa. But, for Ellie, Diane, and Tiffany, England isn't safe either as the wily and unscrupulous Gabriel cons them all. And the Africa Ellie comes to know and love - the friends she makes and the children she teaches - cannot protect her from the dangers of either Gabriel or the rioting as rebels attempt a coup to overturn the government. I've ...more
Lisa Deckert
Apr 09, 2012 Lisa Deckert rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book. Ellie, the main character, seems at first to be a bit of a pushover, but like many unassuming women, she has great inner strength that her friends and family rely upon. Finding herself alone after a terrible tragedy, she decides to teach in Africa for a year, and finds that there is much more going on than she originally believed. Ellie's wonderful character is challenged in every way possible. A beautiful story. Why no voting buttons? We don't let customers vote on the ...more
Willow Sanders
If the system allowed 1/2 ratings- this book would get three and a half stars

The Palavar Tree is a unique work of fiction surrounding British aid workers in Central Africa. The story is quite dense, offering a multitude of characters and an intricate plot structure. The books strengths, very well developed characters and a plot that keeps you turning the page, can also be viewed as the books weaknesses as there are SO many characters it can become quite confusing. The first ten-ish percent of th
P.C. Zick
Feb 24, 2014 P.C. Zick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Palaver tree serves as the heart of a community. It’s the place for discussion, decision-making, festive occasions, and the place for storytelling. In the hands of Wendy Unsworth, the Palaver tree becomes more than a literal tree. In her novel, The Palaver Tree, it becomes a figurative place, as well, for the characters in this suspenseful novel set in a fictional country in Africa. Literally, the tree is the gathering place for storytelling and decision-making. It also provides shade from t ...more
Jess Mountifield
So glad I picked up the book, other than the setting of this book I'm not sure the cover and title quite do this book justice. This is one of those intrigue and suspense novels that makes it tough to put down, even when you have too. I loved the sense of realism to this book.

Unfortunately I've had the misfortune of knowing someone very similar to the bad guy of this book which served to show this as being even more realistic.

I loved the ending too!
Elizabeth Jasper
Feb 22, 2012 Elizabeth Jasper rated it really liked it
Beautifully writting more in the LitFic style than contemporary, this book examines the motivations and actions of the characters but, more than that, it is a tense, dramatic story of love, betrayal and danger.

Original and interesting, with a wonderful immediacy in the African sections of the story, this one kept me reading into the night. It's a story of loss, temptation, deception and redemption and I loved the ending.

Jan 29, 2014 Sandie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ellie Hathaway lives a quiet life in Berriwood, Cornwall. She had married late to her husband, John, but life with him was sweet. She lived a life of preplanned routine, gardening, going to various village functions, spending time with her best friend, Dianne. That all changed the night John went out to walk the dog and didn't return, the victim of a hit and run driver.

John leaves Ellie very well off. Needing a change in her life, she is an easy prey for Gabriel Cole, the founder of The Hope Fo
Wendy ~M/M Junkie~
Mar 25, 2013 Wendy ~M/M Junkie~ rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book once it started to pick up. It had a slow start and took me awhile to really get into it. However, once it picked up I had trouble putting it down.
I liked the characters and enjoyed reading their story. There is a lot about politics in this book, which isn't something I usually go for. In this case it worked for me. Overall I really think this story is worth reading and quite enjoyable.
Wow. This is just one of those books where you start reading, don't know where the story is going exactly, and then Bam. It takes you off guard, and you are looking at the clock thinking, where did the time go? The Palaver Tree by Wendy Unsworth, is a must read. I was kindly provided my copy by the author, and I must tell you, this one captivated my interest. Kudos.
Feb 12, 2013 Ursula rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, suspense
I was asked to do a review for this book. The story started off kind of slow but it soon picked up. I really enjoyed Ellie, Diane and Tiffany they were great characters. I also loved the mystery of the story. If you are looking for a good Mystery and Suspense story to read I recommend you give The Palaver Tree a try.
Jo Barton
Mar 14, 2014 Jo Barton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This beautifully written story looks at the dynamics of relationships both personal and private and explores what happens when the world around us becomes tainted with corruption, greed and betrayal. By opening the story in a cosy Cornish village we are lulled into comfortable domesticity but tragedy is about to strike at the very heart of the community and for Ellie Hathaway life will never be the same again. Ellie’s search for a new start will take her thousands of miles from her home village ...more
Jul 27, 2013 Mary rated it liked it
This book is the beginning of a series of stories by Wendy Unsworth.

I enjoyed reading about Central Africa and the government unrest, it was something I had heard about, but was not clear or involved with it as you get with the people of the story.

Ellie Hathaway is a widowed school teacher who actually has just lost her husband to an accident. When Gabriel Cole comes to her small village in Berriwood for a fund raising luncheon, he asks her to come to Africa to help with the school he is rising
Reader Gal
Aug 30, 2013 Reader Gal rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's easily much more than I expected, an epic story that sweeps you along in its wake. Starting in a cozy English village and ending up in the middle of an uprising in Africa, this book is peopled with enough intriguing characters that it will whet your appetite for more. Which is great, since, it turns out, this is only the first in a series on Berriwood village.

I grew to love this book. There is a lot background information on the characters at first, which doe
Paulette Mahurin
Mar 26, 2014 Paulette Mahurin rated it it was amazing
The Palavar Tree by Wendy Unsworth is a beautifully written work. It paints characters and scenes that invite the reader into the story with great imagery. Ellie the main character as well as the other characters in this story are developed in a realistic life like unfolding which creates an interest for the reader to want to get to know more, to discover new things, about them. It is often said that the mark of a really good writer is one that gets the reader to care about the characters, along ...more
May 07, 2012 Wendy rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul Barron
May 26, 2012 Paul Barron rated it it was amazing

This was an excellent read for so many different reasons,the author has a great eye for colour and detail and gets this across to the reader most effectively.

The contrast between a sleepy affluent Cornish village and the stifling heat of a poverty stricken African village was really well done.

All the characters were all well drawn but the strength of the story was the way in which the many different characters,sub plots and locations were weaved together.

A slow burner to begin with the story
M.D. Eyre
Apr 02, 2012 M.D. Eyre rated it really liked it
The Palaver Tree takes you from a small Cornish village to Africa; through the eyes of the different characters unfolds a story of betrayal that puts Ellie, recently widowed, in danger. I enjoy the depiction of her time in Africa where she helps as a teacher and faces a world so different from hers. There are some very vivid descriptions of Africa, its country and its people and the characterisation is realistic. I particularly liked Gabriel, whose character evolves through the story. A gripping ...more
Firrose Felrose  Ationg
I was very excited to read this book for the fact that I won it from a blogging promo I joined. Sadly, the book failed to charm me. Its not really that complex, still I could hardly understood, maybe because I hate someone as stupid and weakling as Ellie. Honestly, i would not recommend this. :(
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Wendy was born and raised in Lincolnshire, England. Her passions are her family, travel, beautiful gardens and reading and writing stories. Wendy lived in Ndola, Zambia and Nairobi, Kenya throughout the 1980's and early '90's before returning to the U.K. to acclimatise back to the English weather in a draughty Cornish cottage close to Bodmin Moor!
She is currently based in the north west of Englan
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