Liralen's Reviews > Place of Reeds

Place of Reeds by Caitlin   Davies
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's review
Oct 11, 2014

really liked it
bookshelves: z-2014, africa, nonfiction, take-back-the-night, reviewed

Davies moved to Botswana on...on a hope, really. She'd met a Motswana, fallen in love, and was hopeful enough about their future to give life in Maun a chance. And for a long time it worked: she learned to love her life there, to connect with her lover's family; she and her lover married, and she got invested in work that really mattered to her. But assault brought cultural differences to the front of her relationship with her in-laws; what she needed at that point wasn't something that her life in Botswana could offer.

I started this book with some skepticism; I wasn't sure what to expect, and anyway, I could only find large-print copies. It took me some time to get into it, too, since she makes ample use of time jumps. She spent a long time in Botswana, though, and those time jumps allow her to focus on the parts of her story that she really wants to highlight. Along the way, she details a changing landscape in Maun. What feels like a safe, secure place evolves; relationships evolve; things get ever more complicated. Davies becomes a citizen of Botswana, but her perspective is not always welcome.

The climax, of course, comes when Davies is attacked and raped in her home. I knew it was coming, but my stomach still tied up in knots as her tale moved in that direction. It's hard to read. But she soldiers on in the writing (as she soldiered on in real life), and it ends up being quite powerful. When people were raped in books, Davies says, or on TV, when their rapes were reported in newspapers or magazines, there was never any after-effect. The drama was the rape; you rarely saw what happened next. Because what happened next was not dramatic, it was a day-to-day struggle (532).

She manages an articulate representation of how her relationships changed, showing them in their complexities. Her husband, for example, isn't written off; he simply has torn loyalties. She doesn't lose her love for Botswana, but she's no longer able to live there. Really interesting, sometimes painful, look at a part of her life.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 11, 2014 – Shelved
October 11, 2014 – Shelved as: z-2014
October 11, 2014 – Shelved as: africa
October 11, 2014 – Shelved as: nonfiction
October 11, 2014 – Shelved as: take-back-the-night
October 19, 2014 – Shelved as: reviewed

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