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A Spear of Summer Grass

(A Spear of Summer Grass #1)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  3,938 ratings  ·  657 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
Paperback, 370 pages
Published April 30th 2013 by Harlequin MIRA
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3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,938 ratings  ·  657 reviews

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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
DNF at about 30%. I have issues with this one on several levels:

• I should have known this one wouldn't be for me when, in the first few pages, our main character Delilah (<-----oooh symbolism) explains how it's okay that she occasionally sleeps with her ex-husband, who is now married to another woman and has a child with her, because she "had him first" and she doesn't intend to ever take him away from his second wife. So it's all good. Um, no. It's not.

• Delilah is a wealthy, privileged whi
Khanh, first of her name, mother of 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, exemp
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
May 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
"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
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
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
Apr 24, 2017 rated it liked it
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.

Ah, Delilah. A 1920s party girl determined to shag away, drink away and/or outrun heartbreak will not be a heroine to everyone's taste. Delilah is what people like to call an "unlikeable heroine". It is a term I don't particularly care for, because of the thing
Fred Shaw
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Scandalous Delilah Drummond is being exiled by her family from Paris to her step-father’s estate near Nairobi, Kenya, until the the press frenzy over her latest soiree has subsided. Delilah has embarrassed her wealthy family and this is a final warning. The time is sometime shortly after WWI.

When arriving in Nairobi, she is a duck out of water, a very beautiful duck, arriving in expensive silk frocks and high heel shoes. On her way to the estate, her driver, guide and neighbor, Ryder White, sto
Delilah Dawson
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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!
Ali Trotta
Mar 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“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
Amy S
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
I still think that Deanna Raybourn is a great author with a lot of skill, great character development, and a master at witty repartee. She just lost me here. Didn't love it.

Delilah Drummond is not a likeable character, along with 90% of the characters in the book. This is not a dealbreaker by any means, but there just wasn't the growth that I'd hoped for with this character, who began with a lot of potential. Ryder (a pun, I am guessing?), the romantic interest is a cardboard cut-out who likes t
Christy B
Dec 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
May 24, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Doll Noa
Apr 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Incredible. Amazing. Magical. Wonderful. More on Thursday on
Jenny Q
Oct 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: blog-tour
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
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
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
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing

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
Feb 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Era da tempo che un romance storico non mi suscitava tante e tali emozioni.
L'ambientazione ha fatto il suo, l'Africa è una delle mie preferite in assoluto, e anche in questo caso, al termine della lettura, ti lascia quella gioia mista a nostalgia che può capire solo chi, come me, ha avuto la fortuna di viverla e visitarla (purtroppo non ancora il Kenya).
Il personaggio di Delilah è indubbiamente la carta vincente della Raybourn; non si può non amare un'eroina romantica così totalmente diversa e a
Kate Forsyth
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"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
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
Linda Baker
Mar 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
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
Rochelle Barlow
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 (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
Annette Thompson
May 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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!
Lisa Wolf
Apr 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
You know the saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover”? Even in this case, it is true. A SPEAR OF SUMMER GRASS contains every bit the exoticism, beauty, and romance evoked in the picture above AND MORE. The beautifully composed story inside is breathtaking -- beyond anything an artist could capture on canvas. Filled with decadence, danger, passion, and heartbreak, it is the tale of a glamorous and damaged woman’s journey of self discovery.

As the summary suggests, the notorious Delilah Drummo
Christal (Badass Book Reviews)
See this review and others like it at!

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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New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist Deanna Raybourn is a 6th-generation native Texan. She graduated with a double major in English and history from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Married to her college sweetheart and the mother of one, Raybourn makes her home in Virginia. Her novels have been nominated for numerous awards including five RITAs, two RT Reviewers’ Choice awards ...more
“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.” 18 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.” 14 likes
More quotes…