White Dog Fell From the Sky

whitedogfellWhite Dog Fell From the Sky
by Eleanor Morse
2013 / 352 pages
rating 8 / contemp. lit (Botswana)

Although this book is laden with flaws, by the time it ended I really rather liked it. I think it must have been the characters who, by the end, for all they had been through, endeared themselves.

There are two main overlapping plot threads. The first is that of Isaac Muthethe, a young, intelligent male refuge from South Africa who manages to get across the border into Botswana where he finds work as the gardner for a white woman named Alice Mendelssohn. But when he goes home for a brief visit tragedy hits and he is captured by SA police and accused of being an ANC rebel.

Meanwhile, Alice, an unhappily married woman who works for a government agency separates from her husband and is lonely. On a job excursion into the field she meets Ian Thorne, an older, legally married researcher who frees wild animal herds by cutting their enclosures. He’s probably trying to free himself from his “ex-” wife, metaphorically.

Alice and Isaac seem to be trapped in their situations while Ian is determinedly “free.” The obvious set-up is that Alice should save Isaac in some way and somehow either free herself to be with Ian or leave for good. Mercifully, it’s not quite as predictable as that, it gets surprising and very suspenseful as the story moves along.

As a side interest in the book there is some discussion of the San people and their ancient art along with the wildlife and other natural elements of that area of Africa. These sections feel like padding and fluff, interesting though they may be. I really did enjoy the brief peek at the world through the eyes of the San people.

The writing was also often quite nice with passages like “… an old grandmother whose skin had fallen into a thousand wrinkles.”

I was going to say that the book is overly long but by the end I had become so involved with the characters I didn’t really want it to end in spite of tself.

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