Read of the week

Soul Sisters

Lesley Lokko

Pan Macmillan

Review: Karen Watkins

This easy read is a story of love, power, friendship and secrets.

It begins in Matabeleland, Southern Rhodesia, in 1921 and spans generations to 2010.

Two women are raised as sisters in Edinburgh, brought together by a shared family history.

Red-head Scottish gallery assistant Jen is searching for her place in the world compared to black South African brain surgeon, Kemi.

They are closer than sisters until they fall for drop-dead gorgeous South African banker, Solam Rhoyi. He grew up without parents who were jailed under apartheid. Jen and Kemi were also starved of parental love, guidance and caring.

Solam inspires Kemi to travel to South Africa to learn more about her past.

On a journey of self-discovery, she flies to Johannesburg and takes up a position at Baragwanath Hospital. Coincidentally he is also there at the same time. They meet and become an item.

However, Solam is ruthlessly ambitious and exploits Jen to get what he wants.

Family secrets start to emerge and desperate to reach his political dreams, Solam makes a devastating choice.

The timeline moves between London and Johannesburg, dipping into Cape Town and the southern coast.

The story is confusing at times but I’m glad I stuck with this intriguing family saga, indulging in escapism and the lavish lifestyle.

The period is wonderfully evoked down to the fashion details and historical background.

The characters are believable, especially Kemi and Solam’s parents.

In fact some characters resemble South African politicians.

Lokko is a Ghanaian-Scottish architect who threw in the towel and began writing fiction.

She now splits her time between London, Accra and Johannesburg, with the odd winter spent writing in a cottage near Edinburgh.