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Leopard at the Door

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  2,145 Ratings  ·  405 Reviews
Stepping off the boat in Mombasa, eighteen-year-old Rachel Fullsmith stands on Kenyan soil for the first time in six years. She has come home.

But when Rachel reaches the family farm at the end of the dusty Rift Valley Road, she finds so much has changed. Her beloved father has moved his new partner and her son into the family home. She hears menacing rumours of Mau Mau vio
Published July 13th 2017 by Viking (first published January 3rd 2017)
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Edith "The Grass is Singing" by Doris Lessing and "A Blade of Grass" by Lewis DeSoto are both good books about Colonial Africa.
Virginia I think she was attracted to Michael because he was so educated for an African at the time and had travelled the world and had read so much. He had…moreI think she was attracted to Michael because he was so educated for an African at the time and had travelled the world and had read so much. He had also been her teacher and she had probably go close to him during those years.(less)
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This is a brilliant well researched historical novel that does not spare the reader the insanity of British colonial history in Kenya in the 1950s. It plays out amidst the recent independence of India and a Britain determined to stave off further losses by ruthlessly squashing all signs of rebellion in other parts of its empire. Kenya is a particularly horrific and ugly part of the British in Africa and McVeigh captures the struggles that took place in a realistic manner. In Kenya, upon the trag ...more
This is the story of Rachel. A young British girl (around 18 now) who is returning to Kenya after being away for 6 years. Her mother was killed when she was young and she was sent to England to live with her grandparents and go to school. But now, she is going home. Oh she has missed her beloved Kenya and can't wait to return. But Kenya has gone through so many changes over the years and it is no longer a safe place to return to. Her father still lives on the family farm but urges her, a bit to ...more
This was an intense read, well-researched, well-developed story line. A brutal history of the Mau Mau struggle against the British colonial powers in Kenya in the 1950s. The subject, namely the brutal war, was the actual protagonist with the main character, eighteen-year-old Rachell Fullsmith, coming in at a close second. Upsetting, appalling, shocking, terrible. The focus stayed relentlessly on the detail of the massacres of people all over the country. The author claimed that only 32 farmers w ...more
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
4 stars to Leopard at the Door. The 1950s colonial period in Kenya made for an atmospheric setting, and the author's writing was beautifully descriptive. The main character, Rachel, has returned from England to her childhood home of Kenya after six years away, in the midst of the Mau Mau rebellion, and she's found that everything in her former life has changed. Secrets are covered up, and true character is revealed along the way. McVeigh has a talent for writing incredibly sympathetic, loathsome ...more
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

Can you really come back home? Is it always the same or always changed?

Rachel was returning to her childhood home after being in England for six years and living with her maternal grandparents for schooling after her mother had passed away.

Rachel always loved her home in Africa, but coming back didn't seem like the right choice after she met her father's live-in companion, Sara, and with all the upheaval and Mau Mau Rebellion. Sara was not like her sweet, caring mother, and Rachel didn't agree w
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When Rachel Fullsmith loses her mother at the age of 12, she also basically loses her father and her home in Kenya due to her father sending her to boarding school in England. When she returns to Kenya 6 years later, she finds that very little remains the same. Not only is another woman living with her father, but there is political upheaval taking place. The Mau Mau Rebellion was a real-life uprising that took place in Kenya in the 1950’s. The Kikuyu community has been split apart, some remaini ...more
Heather *Awkward Queen and Unicorn Twin*
"Authority is not a substitute for truth."

McVeigh has a talent for writing characters you hate. Just really fucking hate. And not in a fun way. More like you want to reach into the book and stab them, but since you can't you're actively wishing they'll somehow die in the pages of the story. I noticed this when reading her first book, The Fever Tree. They do the stupidest things, or the most loathsome things, and it's SO FRUSTRATING. It's physically painful at times to read about the choices he
Steven Walle
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was great. This book was based on a young lady's life growing up in Great Britan when she was born in Affrica. She has to deal with the changes in Affrica as Great Britan in cyvalising the contenant.
Enjoy and Be Blessed.
This is an exciting story and it teaches about Kenya's Mau Mau Rebellion of the 1950s. It is a good book to start with to get a general idea of this civil war.

The book depicts the well-warranted fear of the isolated English farmers on the edge of the Rift Valley, English imperialistic attitudes, as well as the beauty of Kenyan landscape and flora and fauna.

The story is plot-oriented and is meant to be exciting. The central character is eighteen-year-old Rachel Fullsmith. The year is 1952. She is
Stephanie Anze
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the age of twelve, upon the death of her mother, Rachel is sent back to England. Having lived in Kenya for most of her life, Rachel does not quite adapt to her new surroundings. When she is eighteen, Rachel moves back home (Kenya) but the situation is far from the idyllic childhood she remembers. There is another woman in her house, the political atmosphere is heavily charged and the secret Rachel has been harboring threatens her very safety.

The background for this novel is Kenya and the Mau
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This book is not what I normally read,but like to read something different I've visited Kenya and the details of this book is spot on.really enjoyed this book a family story and the hardships of living in Kenya shocker of an ending.won this book on first reads.goodreads is great as you get to read books you would never pick up and there's alot of good new authors.
Katie B
A beautiful but tragic story set in the 1950s about a young woman who returns to her home in Kenya and realizes everything has changed in her absence. After the death of her mother, Rachel is sent to live in England with her grandparents while her father remains in Kenya on their family's farm. Upon returning, not only have things changed on the farm but also throughout the country as the Mau Mau attempt to overthrow the white settlers. This is a story of a young woman discovering how to stay tr ...more
Cora ☕ Tea Party Princess
5 Words: Family, home, prejudice, change, cruelty.

It took me a while to get into the story with this book. I found myself distracted by the descriptions, daydreaming instead of reading. And how wonderful is that?

This is my second book by this author, and like the first book there are conservation messages subtly strewn throughout the text. It really makes you think.

This book was a lot more violent than I was expecting, and I did have to put it down a few times as there are some graphic descripti
Bill Kupersmith
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent work of historical fiction. It succeeds in being fair to both sides of a conflict impossible to view in any terms but black & white, not only from the skin colour of the participants, but from a moral perspective. That Jennifer McVeigh could portray the views of both sides with such sympathy & understanding awes me. When I was a child, Mau Mau represented the worst form of atavistic diabolical blood-thirsty savagery. In the 'post-colonial' period Mau Mau transmogrifi ...more
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the age of 12, after her mother’s death, Rachel’s father sent her away from their home in Kenya, to live with her grandparents and attend school in England. Six years later, she returns to Kenya and discovers that you can never really go back home.

My feelings about this book are all over the place. The writing itself is beautiful. McVeigh does a masterful job of setting us up in the gorgeous and wild country of Kenya. Africa is a place I’ve always been equal parts intrigued by and terrified o
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review to come.
I mean it.
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
Wow...just wow! I'm stunned by how good this book is. I just finished it and am still breathless over the ending. How is it that I've never heard of this author before? I will definitely seek out her works in the future.
The protagonist, Rachel, is born and raised in a huge farming/ranching estate far out in the wilds of Kenya with her mother and father and a number of African servants. At the age of 12, her beloved mother dies, and she is sent to boarding school in England, their country of ori
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very complex historical novel that follows Rachel, a British girl who grew up in Kenya and is returning to after six years. Rachel's mother passed away shortly before she traveled to England to live with her grandparents and attend boarding school and her father has moved in with a very controlling and bigoted woman, Sara. As Rachel tries to get along with Sara and Sara's son, threats arise over a resistance movement, the Mau Mau. The British see the Mau Mau as indiscriminate killers b ...more
Renita D'Silva
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this beautiful book. A beautifully written, poignant tale of love and war and prejudice and courage. Adored it.
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Novel set in 1952 KENYA

This review originally appeared on our blog, where the author also talks about her research of setting:

Jennifer McVeigh came to prominence with her first book, The Fever Tree, set in 1880s South Africa, which was picked for the Richard and Judy bookclub, garnering a lot of high starred reviews.

Leopard at the Door is set in 1952 Kenya, when the white settlers and their way of life are facing growing resistance from the local populati
Dawn Michelle
Very, very sad. And many parts made me crazy angry. This was a very tough book to read.
Roman Clodia
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

Firstly, McVeigh writes lovely, fluent prose and her descriptions, especially, flow off the page. This book is also well-researched enough to be attentive to the disproportionate numbers killed on both sides in the Mau Mau rebellion.

That said, the book overall has a YA feel to it with its naive first person narrator (writing in the present tense), the predictability of the plot arc, and the thinness of characterisation - the wicked step-mother with her crude, racist views; the sadistic
Tanja Berg
Mar 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rachel is returning to Kenya after having spent six years in England with her grand parents, having been left there at 12 years old after her mother died. It's the 1950's and the times are troubled. Rachel's father has found a new woman, Sara. They are not married. Rachel struggles to get along with Sara. She also struggles with the attitudes of the time.

Trouble is brewing and there is an uprising by the Mau Mau. British settlers are being murdered. Whom does the land really belong to? The usur
Nov 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really interesting read. I haven't read much based in 1950s Kenya so I found the backdrop engaging and the action moved swiftly, keeping me turning the pages. Unfortunately, it's also a case of an author trying to do to much. The main drama of a young woman on the wrong side of history would have been enough for me. I didn't need all the (many) side dramas.
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A departure from my usual fare, this historical fiction set in Kenya during the 1950’s was fascinating! The writing was superb, both with regard to plot and description. Rachel, who had lost her mother when she was twelve, returns to Kenya after completing schooling in London. The author has such a feel for the inherent contrasts, the fierce beauty and also the savagery of the land, coupled with evidence of heart stopping brutality by some of the natives, which is frequently offset by the genuin ...more
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Are you a fan of Historical Fiction?
Whether your answer is a yes or no, you should definitely visit your nearest local bookstore and get yourself a copy of Leopard at the Door.
Set in the 1050’s, Eighteen year old, British Rachel Fullsmith, returned back, after six years, to her home in Kenya expecting her life to be pretty much the same. She soon discovers that a lot had changed and gets caught up in the political drift that involved the secret Mau Mau group, rebelling against the European Colon
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: digital-copy
Leopard at the Door narrates two different struggles through the perspective of Rachel, the daughter of a settler in Kenya, some years after WW2. The first one is the Mau Mau revolution that aims to get rid of the English in Kenya; and the second one is Rachel's own attempt to return to the life she lived as a child, before she was taken away to England.
Though interesting, Rachel's family issues are very frustrating and sometimes even boring. To begin with, Rachel's father doesn't seem to care,
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
3.5 stars, but with a little more leaning toward to a 4-star read. Many of the books I've read lately have been very good, but with just a little something missing to make them excellent. Leopard at the Door is very good and leans more to great than the others I've read lately. That is because this was far more of an intense read than I anticipated. At first I was thinking of something along the lines of Circling the Sun, but this has a much darker undercurrent running through it. Rachel is sent ...more
Linda Robinson
The setting is the star in this novel; the lighting, sounds, weather and beauty of Kenya. All the prose devoted to the scene is stellar. The characters are another story. Our shero is returning to Africa at the age of 18, having been banished to her grandparents in England when her mother died six years before. Rachel Fullsmith returns to Africa against the wishes of her father. Or was it Sara, the usurper, who does not want her on the farm? Rachel returns in 1952 to turbulent times. British rul ...more
Dec 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story is set in 1954, Kenya Colony, Africa. Rachel is coming back to the colony after spending 6 years in England after the death of her mother. Her father warns her not to return but she still comes back to many changes in her childhood home. Her father has taken in another woman who Rachel tries very hard to like and find common ground with. At this time in history, Kenya has a group called “Mau Mau” that has materialized in the strife for all land to be taken from white colonists and give ...more
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I graduated from Oxford University in 2002, and went on to work in film and publishing before leaving my day job to do an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. The Fever Tree was a Richard & Judy Bookclub Pick. My second novel, Leopard at the Door, will be published by Penguin in 2017. I live in London with my husband and our three young children.

Praise for The Fever Tree
“There is not
More about Jennifer McVeigh

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“Authority is not a substitute for truth.” 1 likes
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