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A Spear of Summer Grass (A Spear of Summer Grass #1)

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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  2,204 ratings  ·  443 reviews
Paris, 1923

The daughter of a scandalous mother, Delilah Drummond is already notorious, even amongst Paris society. But her latest scandal is big enough to make even her oft-married mother blanch. Delilah is exiled to Kenya and her favorite stepfather's savannah manor house until gossip subsides.

Fairlight is the crumbling, sun-bleached skeleton of a faded African dream, a w
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Paperback, 370 pages
Published April 30th 2013 by Harlequin MIRA
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Community Reviews

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Khanh (Clowns, Nightmares, and Bunnies)
The men stood back, chanting a song of one who would not be forgotten, of loved ones lost and returned to the earth, and of the land itself which does not die but is always born anew with each fall of the long rains. They chanted of life, which is short as a spear of summer grass or long as the heart of the Rift itself, and of the silent land that waits beyond. They chanted of Africa.
My apologies in advance for the liberal use of quotations within this review. The writing is beautiful, exempl
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Angie
Originally reviewed here @ Angieville

Have you ever seen Out of Africa? It's this old Sydney Pollack film starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, and it is sort of loosely based on Isak Dinesen's (pseudonym of Danish author Karen Blixen) autobiographical book of the same name. I ask because it (and its soundtrack) was a staple in my house growing up, and when I first read the brief synopsis for Deanna Raybourn's latest standalone novel, A SPEAR OF SUMMER GRASS, it was literally the first thing
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Misfit
"Don't believe the stories you have heard about me. I have never killed anyone, and I have never stolen another woman's husband. Oh, if I find one lying around unattended, I might climb on, but I never took one that didn't want taking."

Best opening lines ever?

"I might have been heading to the wilds of Africa, but there was no excuse to look untidy."

Delilah Drummond has finally dug herself into one scandal too many, and she needs to go someplace in the back-o-beyond and cool her heels until the
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Janga
I had a really difficult time deciding how to “grade” this book. Deanna Raybourn is an amazing writer, and her skills are evident from the opening line to the final one. Her vivid descriptions of Kenya frequently made me feel as if I were watching a movie on a theater screen rather than reading a book. That was the effect of this description:

A tiny herd of elephants looked infinitesimal from our lofty height, and when Ryder stilled the engine, I heard nothing but the long rush of wind up from th
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Caz
4.5 stars

I’ve read and enjoyed Ms Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey books, so when I saw she’d written a story set in the 1920s, I was intrigued and at the same time a little apprehensive. Not only was the author treading new ground, but so was I – my taste in historicals tends to run to the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries. Maybe because I was born and grew up in the second half of the 20th Century, it’s still a little too close for me to really regard it as “historical”!

Fortunately, however, my apprehe
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TheBookSmugglers
Ana’s take:

A Spear of Summer Grass starts really well and I loved the main character to start with. Delilah is a scandalous woman, an unrepentant, egotistical, multiple-time divorced in the early 20s. After a recent scandal in Paris, she is exiled to Kenya until gossip dies out.

Of course, this set-up is potentially problematic for two main reasons:

One is that the story could turn into a redemption story because god forbid a female character be unlikable and not-nice. Two is that said redemption
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Christy B
A delightful story set in 1920s Africa starring a scandalous flapper.

Even from reading the summary beforehand, I still didn't know what to expect when I started reading this. It was a fast read, although I'm not sure if the reason for that was the writing style or the fact that the story just moved quickly. Regardless, I never really felt a lull in the story. While it took a little while for the story to get going, once it did, there was no stopping it.

I admit to not reading a whole lot of histo
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Suzanna
Apparently, Deanna Raybourn outside of the Lady Julia Grey series just isn't for me. I really did not enjoy her last standalone book The Dead Travel Fast, but this one sounded so interesting I was excited to give it a go. I was very disappointed.

Quite frankly, this book was a bit of a mess from start to finish. The main characters are developed in sudden bits and pieces, and don't really make sense. The other white settlers are pretty awful, and pretty flat in most cases, and while I really like
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Ali Trotta
“Because if we're on the road to hell, we're going to dance the whole damn way and give them something to talk about when we're gone.” A Spear of Summer Grass, 334

A Spear of Summer Grass, is Deanna Raybourn’s latest masterpiece. Once again, she crafts a perfect opening line – opening paragraph, truly – “Don’t believe the stories you have heard about me.” And with that single sentence, a reader wants to know what, exactly, those stories are. It is the ultimate invitation to witness a bit of chic
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Doll Noa
Incredible. Amazing. Magical. Wonderful. More on Thursday on www.paperbackdolls.com
Jenny Q
Deanna Raybourn forever has a fan in me with her fabulous Lady Julia Grey series, so I couldn't wait to read her take on 1920s East Africa in her latest stand-alone novel. The story follows scandalized American socialite Delilah Drummond as she flees scrutiny over the somewhat suspicious circumstances of her latest husband's death by journeying as far from the public eye as possible: her former stepfather's estate in Kenya. I was instantly captivated by Delilah, whose fresh, sardonic voice and p ...more
Barb
Everything Deanna Raybourn writes is very easy and enjoyable to read and I tend to snarf down her fiction in one or two big gulps. I've really enjoyed her Lady Julia Grey series and I enjoyed 'A Spear of Summer Grass' as well. I was able to read 'Far In the Wilds' which is the prequel to this story and felt it added to my enjoyment of this novel and would recommend others read that first as well.

I liked a lot of things about this book but I wish Raybourn had given the main characters a less pred
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Carole

A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn

If there is a more gifted writer than Deanna Raybourn, I don't know who it would be. I am normally a very fast reader, but in this book I found myself slowing down just to savor the way she told the story. Not an ill-chosen word nor a misplaced phrase, it was truly lovely to read.

I am a longtime fan of the Lady Julia and Brisbane series. Be forewarned: Delilah is no Julia. She is a very complex heroine of a different era, and she has quite a journey in
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Delilah Dawson
An utterly stunning stand-alone title from one of my favorite authors. The worldbuilding was so poetic and beautiful and the characters so deep and raw that I didn't want a plot, but the plot arrived unbidden and jerked my heart around dreadfully. If this book were a pair of shoes, I would dance in them until I fell over dead. Oh, how I wish it were a series!
Linda Baker
It is Paris in 1923 and Delilah Drummond is in hot water- again. Twice widowed and once divorced before the age of 30, the circumstances of her latest husband's death have even Delilah's own scandalous mother horrified. Delilah's behavior is beyond the pale even for the wide-open flapper era. As a result Delilah is to be exiled to Kenya until the furor dies down. Since she is in imminent danger of losing her allowance from her wealthy American grandfather, she agrees and sets off to Kenya with o ...more
Kate Forsyth
"Don't believe the stories you have heard about me. I have never killed anyone, and I have never stolen another woman's husband. Oh, if I find one lying around unattended, I might climb on, but I never took one that didn't want taking."

As soon as I read these opening lines, I sighed happily, knowing I was going to love this book. Deanna Raybourn is best known for her Lady Julia series of Victorian murder mysteries, and so A Spear of Summer Grass is a new departure for her. Set during the Roaring
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Julie
Wow! What a great story!
We start out in Paris in 1923. Delilah Drummond is informed by her family that she has been involved in one too many scandals. Her grandfather has threatened to cut her off financially if she doesn't agree to lay low for a while. Her step father owns property in Africa and it is decided that would be the perfect place for Delilah to spend on a little vacation.
Delilah has been married three times and has had numerous lovers. He first marriage though, broke her heart and s
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Rochelle Barlow
From page one I was transported to another time and place. As I read I could smell the cigarette smoke, hear the clinking of ice, and just feel the energy rolling off the pages. Deanna Raybourn is a remarkable artist. The scenes she paints are vivid and clear and authentic. Africa itself was a character and so richly portrayed. You can't help but feel the heat and sweat sticking to your back while turning the pages. The main character's voice is very strong, I felt as though I were her the momen ...more
Allison
I became a fan of Deanna Raybourn through her Lady Julia series (and am desperately hoping there are more full length novels coming in that series!). I picked up A Spear of Summer Grass knowing from reviews that it's nothing like the Lady Julia books and hoping I would love it anyway. I believe the mark of a good author is that they can write books that don't feel like clones of each other, or like attempts to recapture a magic that has succeeded before.

In this book, Raybourn accomplishes a com
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Allison (The Allure of Books)
I have been excited about reading A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn since first hearing about it. Since she is already responsible for creating two of my all-time favorite characters, I had high expectations for what she could accomplish with a story set in 1920s Kenya. Overall? It was pretty darn good.

Unfortunately, A Spear of Summer Grass and I didn’t get off to the best start. Delilah Drummond is NOT a likable gal in the beginning. Trying to relate to her? Forget about it. The beginn
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Annette Thompson
Once I started, I couldn't stop this amazing book! I've lived in Africa myself and loved the descriptions of Kenya in the 1920's. The story's romance is exciting and the ending unpredictable but satisfying. Nicola Barber is an excelent narrator. If you enjoyed the book or movie, "Out of Africa", you'll love "A Spear of Summer Grass." I hope Deanna Raybourn writes more books about the main character, Delilah!
Becky Day
Overall, I liked this book. Delilah was a strong enough main character to carry the story, and Raybourn is a good storyteller - I kept turning pages (digitally, anyway) to see what was coming next.

That being said, I do have some reservations. I think the portrayal of the attitudes of the white people were pretty close to accurate (with the exception of Delilah, who was remarkably color blind for an upper class Anglo-American with roots in post-Confederate Louisiana). But the relationship betwee
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Susan
Where to start? I found this book completely engrossing. The author captured the essence of Africa, both its beauty and its dangers, perfectly and really felt like I was there with the characters. Aside from the landscape description and the animals, I also got the impression of how the air smelled and felt and saw each color that was present during different times of the day. So, how's that for atmosphere? Awesome!

The main character wasn't all that likeable at the beginning of the book and late
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Kathy
I have been a fan of Deanna Raybourn since reading her first Lady Julia Gray novel in that series. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters of Lady Julia and Brisbane, along with the mystery plots and the historical aspects. I was a bit apprehensive about Ms. Raybourn's venture into another character and romantic pairing. Alas, I worried for nothing. A Spear of Grass with Delilah Drummond and Ryder White as the main characters is another hit for this engaging author. Although Delilah starts out as so ...more
Christal
See this review and others like it at BadassBookReviews.com!

In Deanna Raybourn's A Spear of Summer Grass, Delilah Drummond has found herself banished to Africa to avoid a scandal in France. Delilah is used to the posh, comfortable life and isn't sure what to expect from Africa. What she finds their test the limits of her strength and her heart.

I'm a huge fan of Ms. Raybourn's "Lady Julia" novels and was expecting great things for this book. I have to say, I was very pleasantly satisfied. The sto
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Lisa Wolf
A Spear of Summer Grass opens in Paris, 1923, with a young woman in a great deal of trouble. Delilah Drummond thrives on scandal. The quintessential flapper, she’s the life of the party, basking in male attention, always the center of the action, never known to turn down a drink, a cigarette, or a lover. But when the latest uproar refuses to die down and Delilah’s escapades threaten to embarrass not just her hard-partying mother but her moneybags grandfather, drastic action is needed, and Delila ...more
Lynn Spencer
This book hit me on something of a deeper level than the average read, and so it's hard to come up with a really great review of it because this book just leaves so many feeling swirling around inside one. While there is definitely some romance here, it's really more a story of an unconventional woman coming into her own. Even though the 1920s were a wild time, Delilah Drummond is perhaps a bit too free-spirited for her surroundings in a place like Paris or London, so being packed off to Kenya t ...more
Hannah Cobb
Delilah Drummond wears the excesses of the twenties like impenetrable armor. She runs through drink, drugs, and husbands at a rate that alarms even her notorious mother. When Delilah is banished to Africa until the papers find something else to write about, she arrives in satin shoes and a silk dress. The first sight to meet her eyes is Ryder White--thrashing another man in full view of the public. Delilah's shoes are splattered with blood before she even reaches Fairlight, the beautiful but dec ...more
Michelle
I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it to anyone who wants to read a really good story with intriguing characters and an exotic setting. Deanna Raybourn has a knack for creating characters with great chemistry, which keeps readers interested. The main characters, Delilah Drummond and Ryder White, know they are complicated and flawed and they made no apologies for it. Raybourn does a great job revealing their personal histories throughout the book which in turn sheds light on the ch ...more
Emily
You must read this book. This is a novel that lingers with you after you turn the last page. It is lyrical and harsh and lovely. It evokes the Africa of Hemmingway and the spirit of the Lost Generation.


Delilah Drummond is a heroine with hidden depths. She is a woman I liked instantly, even though from the beginning she was not your typical heroine, and perhaps shouldn't even be likeable. She seemingly parties too hard, flits from man to man without a second thought, and doesn't have any pride in
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A sixth-generation native Texan, New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a double major in English and history and an emphasis on Shakespearean studies. She taught high school English for three years in San Antonio before leaving education to pursue a career as a novelist. Deanna makes her home in Virginia, where she lives with h ...more
More about Deanna Raybourn...
Silent in the Grave (Lady Julia, #1) Silent in the Sanctuary (Lady Julia, #2) Silent on the Moor (Lady Julia, #3) Dark Road to Darjeeling (Lady Julia, #4) The Dark Enquiry (Lady Julia, #5)

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“But this is a thing that I know--to live with fear is not to live at all. A man will die every moment he is afraid.” 13 likes
“Because if we're on the road to hell, we're going to dance the whole damn way and give them something to talk about when we're gone.” 9 likes
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