Out of Darkness, Shining Light
“This is how we carried out of Africa the poor broken body of Bwana Daudi, the Doctor, David Livingstone, so that he could be borne across the sea and buried in his own land.” So begins Petina Gappah's powerful novel of exploration and adventure in nineteenth-century Africa—the captivating story of the loyal men and women who carried explorer and missionary Dr. Livingstone's body, his papers and maps, fifteen hundred miles across the continent of Africa, so his remains could be returned home to England and his work preserved there. Narrated by Halima, the doctor's sharp-tongued cook, and Jacob Wainwright, a rigidly pious freed slave, this is a story that encompasses all of the hypocrisy of slavery and colonization—the hypocrisy at the core of the human heart—while celebrating resilience, loyalty, and love.

Out of Darkness, Shining Light Details

TitleOut of Darkness, Shining Light
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 10th, 2019
PublisherScribner
ISBN-139781982110338
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Cultural, Africa

Out of Darkness, Shining Light Review

  • Debra
    January 1, 1970
    "...all I want is to go somewhere no one has ever been, and gaze at the sky and look for miles around to see nothing but trees and hear nothing but birds."David Livingstone was a Scottish physician, missionary and explorer who was determined to learn the source of the Nile River. He also hoped to use his influence to stop the east African Arab Swahili slave trade. He died in Africa in 1873 from Malaria and Dysentery. His heart was buried under a tree where he died and his remains (and his journa "...all I want is to go somewhere no one has ever been, and gaze at the sky and look for miles around to see nothing but trees and hear nothing but birds."David Livingstone was a Scottish physician, missionary and explorer who was determined to learn the source of the Nile River. He also hoped to use his influence to stop the east African Arab Swahili slave trade. He died in Africa in 1873 from Malaria and Dysentery. His heart was buried under a tree where he died and his remains (and his journal) were carried over 1.000 miles where they could be returned to Britain where he was interred at Westminster Abbey."Whoever heard of a party of people marching across a strange land with a dead body?"But they did just that. This book is told in time before David Livingstone's death and after, when a group of his loyal servants mummified his body and carried it over 1,000 miles so that it could be returned to his homeland. They did not need to do this. They choose to do so. The journey reportedly took nine months. Were they hoping for a reward? Were they dedicated? Were they doing the right thing? Were they doing what he would have done for them? The answers are in this book!I really enjoy reading books based on real events and real people. The Author did a tremendous amount of research prior to writing this book. In the Acknowledgements section she notes her conducted ten years of research but notes that although this book is rooted in historical fact, she used her imagination even referring to her book as imaginative fiction. She gives voice to many of the characters including Halima, Susi, Chuma to name a few.I enjoyed this book. It is not a fast read - which is not a bad thing. I found that I could not sit down and totally absorb myself in this book all at once. What worked was reading this book in stretches. Although I had heard of David Livingstone, I did not know very much about him. I learned a fair amount in this book, but keep in mind, this book is about the journey. About those such as his Cook Halima and his loyal servants who made the journey. What started out as a journey to return a man's body became a personal journey for everyone carrying his body. What is it like to walk about 1,000 miles? What is it like to carry a body, concealed to keep the identity and the body, a secret? What personal and physical struggles must they have endured? David Livingstone was famous, considered a hero, but what his loyal servants showed was true devotion, courage, heroism, and strength. They got not only his body but his journals home, without those journals, would David Livingstone be as known as he is now?Enjoyable, educational, thought provoking and imaginative. "We came to a grave in the forest...This is the sort of grave I should prefer: to lie in the still, still forest, and no hand ever disturb my bones." -David Livingstone, The Last Journals of David LivingstoneI received a copy of this book from the Publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions are my own.
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  • Fran
    January 1, 1970
    Scottish explorer and medical missionary, David Livingstone, relentlessly searched for the source of the Nile, the world's longest river. In the final two years of his life, he still had "Nile madness". In the opinion of Livingstone's acerbic cook Halima, the Nile had been there since time began. The river would continue to flow whether the source was found or not. Halima's advice, "...go home to your children, find a wife 'to warm your bed'." Livingstone refused to return to England despite bec Scottish explorer and medical missionary, David Livingstone, relentlessly searched for the source of the Nile, the world's longest river. In the final two years of his life, he still had "Nile madness". In the opinion of Livingstone's acerbic cook Halima, the Nile had been there since time began. The river would continue to flow whether the source was found or not. Halima's advice, "...go home to your children, find a wife 'to warm your bed'." Livingstone refused to return to England despite becoming ill and frail. He died in 1873 in what is present day Zambia. How is Livingstone to be interred?"He will not rest easy...those who are buried away from home walk abroad...they know no rest...". "He must be buried in the way of his faith...He must...be buried on ground that is consecrated...we cannot bury him here." Halima's suggestion: "We will smoke him...dry him in the sun...He would be light enough to carry then...we bury his heart here and carry his bones to his own land." In the handwritten diaries of Jacob Wainwright, a former slave, Wainwright documents the burial of Livingstone's heart and innards at the base of a Myula tree. Sixty-nine men, women and children decide that Livingstone's body, encased in a cylinder of bark, covered in sailcloth and weather-proofed with tar, must be carried on poles by a rotation of two men, along with his writings and maps. They embark, on foot, taking a perilous journey of over 1,000 miles, from Zambia to Zanzibar, to ultimately repatriate his remains.The journey of Livingstone's body to its final resting place is told by two principals, Halima, his cook and Jacob Wainwright, as his documentarian. "Out of Darkness, Shining Light" by Petina Gappah brings to light many issues existing in 19th Century Africa. Halima says,"I know but little about the world...but there is nothing you can tell me about how slaves are passed on and how they are freed." Jacob Wainwright, a freed slave, wants to became an ordained priest and "convert the masses" to Christianity. What will be the ripple effect of Livingstone's discoveries if his writings and maps reach England? Author Gappah has thoroughly researched and presented a historical fiction masterpiece I highly recommend.Thank you Scribner and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "Out of Darkness, Shining Light".
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 stars, rounded downAnother book where I’m in the minority. This is the story of David Livingstone, both his life and death while searching for the origin of the Nile. Told to us by Halima, his “sharp tongued” cook, and Jacob Wainwright, a freed slave turned Christian convert, we get two vividly contrasting stories. But both stories capture not only the unique relationship between Bwana Daudi and the blacks that were on his expedition, but also the relationship between the English and the Afr 2.5 stars, rounded downAnother book where I’m in the minority. This is the story of David Livingstone, both his life and death while searching for the origin of the Nile. Told to us by Halima, his “sharp tongued” cook, and Jacob Wainwright, a freed slave turned Christian convert, we get two vividly contrasting stories. But both stories capture not only the unique relationship between Bwana Daudi and the blacks that were on his expedition, but also the relationship between the English and the Africans. I especially appreciated Halima trying to understand the Christian religion, as Livingstone tried to convert various people. Jacob, on the other hand, comes across as the typical religious zealot finding fault with everyone. This is not a fast moving story. In fact, I found it slow as molasses. Described as being about the trip to take his body back to the coast so it can be returned to England, half the book is gone before the trip even begins. Gappah does an admirable job of giving us a great sense of time and place. Her research shines through. But it was just too dense and slow for my taste. My thanks to netgalley and Scribner for an advance copy of this book.
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  • Faith
    January 1, 1970
    I’m rather torn about this review because, while the idea of transporting Dr. David Livingstone’s body home to England is interesting, I didn’t enjoy the book very much. Maybe it just didn’t meet my expectation that this would be more of an adventure story. Livingstone was obsessed with finding the source of the Nile. This book deals with the last few months of his life, when he was sick, and the subsequent trek across Africa that was undertaken by his servants in order to return his body (or at I’m rather torn about this review because, while the idea of transporting Dr. David Livingstone’s body home to England is interesting, I didn’t enjoy the book very much. Maybe it just didn’t meet my expectation that this would be more of an adventure story. Livingstone was obsessed with finding the source of the Nile. This book deals with the last few months of his life, when he was sick, and the subsequent trek across Africa that was undertaken by his servants in order to return his body (or at least part of it) and his research papers to England. En route, there was a lot of bickering, threats from men and animals, romantic liaisons, jealousy, hunger and deaths. The story is divided into sections from the points of view of Livingstone’s cook Halima and Jacob Wainwright, a freed slave who had been educated in India. I have no idea how much of this story is accurate, but It certainly felt like the author did a lot of research and she shared all of it. There were too many names of people, tribes, regions and titles and many of them had multiple names. I couldn’t keep track of it all: “...the four most fearsome traders, who are Casembe, Mirambo, Kumbakumba, and Tippoo Tip.” But it turns out that “Casembe” is a title not a name. There is also another warrior group called the Mazitu, but they are also called Maviti, Madzviti, Matuta or Watuta. I don’t know the reason for telling me all of this, other than to cause maximum confusion. In a history book, I’d accept it, but in fiction - no. You don’t need to tell me about every bit of research you’ve done. The Halima part of the book felt like a children’s story. The book picked up for me in the second part, narrated by the smug, self righteous, fanatically Christian Jacob. I didn’t hate or love the book. 3.5 stars which I have rounded up for the glimpse into Africa in the 1870s. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
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  • Will
    January 1, 1970
    4.5An excellent historical novel that focuses on the men and women who, carrying David Livingstone’s body, marched 1500 miles across central Africa to the coast so that his remains could be returned to England. It casts a sharp eye on slavery and colonization while telling a story filled with love, loyalty, revenge and murder. One of two narrators, Halima, Livingstone’s female cook:I tell you, to think that there were simply thousands and thousands of people like the Bwana, and women too, far aw 4.5An excellent historical novel that focuses on the men and women who, carrying David Livingstone’s body, marched 1500 miles across central Africa to the coast so that his remains could be returned to England. It casts a sharp eye on slavery and colonization while telling a story filled with love, loyalty, revenge and murder. One of two narrators, Halima, Livingstone’s female cook:I tell you, to think that there were simply thousands and thousands of people like the Bwana, and women too, far away in England, and in America too, doing what they did, and not knowing at all about the things we did... It made in feel small and shriveled, I tell you, like a raisin on the Liwali’s drying roof, to hear about all these people in all those lands not knowing we were there.
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  • Karen Kay
    January 1, 1970
    I received this from Netgalley.com for a review. “This is how we carried out of Africa the poor broken body of Bwana Daudi, the Doctor, David Livingstone, so that he could be borne across the sea and buried in his own land.” This book just didn't grab my imagination. The story is very densely packed and I was disappointed that Livingstone didn't play a more prominent part of the tale.2☆
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    "Out of Darkness, Shining Light" tells the story of how dozens of loyal men and women "carried out of Africa the poor broken body of Bwana Daudi, the Doctor, David Livingstone, so that he could be borne across the sea and buried in his own land." The novel describes exploration, adventure and love as the caravan traveled 1500 miles. It also touches on racism, cultural differences and family dynamics. I appreciate author Petina Gappah's hard work and research. Unfortunately, I was expecting an en "Out of Darkness, Shining Light" tells the story of how dozens of loyal men and women "carried out of Africa the poor broken body of Bwana Daudi, the Doctor, David Livingstone, so that he could be borne across the sea and buried in his own land." The novel describes exploration, adventure and love as the caravan traveled 1500 miles. It also touches on racism, cultural differences and family dynamics. I appreciate author Petina Gappah's hard work and research. Unfortunately, I was expecting an engaging story. Instead, this novel includes dozens of characters who are hard to keep straight. The author also writes in more of a journal entry style rather than a chronological novel, and I felt like I was reading research notes rather than a true novel. This book might be useful for researchers or others who are interested in Dr. Livingstone, African culture, anthropology, or race relations. It's not a book casual readers will appreciate, in my opinion.
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  • Terry
    January 1, 1970
    #OutofDarknessShining Light by Petina Gappah is the tale of the journey to transport David Livingstone's bones from Africa's interior to its coast, so that his body could be buried in his homeland. Livingstone was a Scottish physician, missionary and explorer whose goal it was to find the origin of the Nile River. Unfortunately, he died before he did so.The story is told between two points of view: that of Halima, his sharp-tongued, ever-talking cook, and Jacob Wainwright, a freed slave and Chri #OutofDarknessShining Light by Petina Gappah is the tale of the journey to transport David Livingstone's bones from Africa's interior to its coast, so that his body could be buried in his homeland. Livingstone was a Scottish physician, missionary and explorer whose goal it was to find the origin of the Nile River. Unfortunately, he died before he did so.The story is told between two points of view: that of Halima, his sharp-tongued, ever-talking cook, and Jacob Wainwright, a freed slave and Christian convert. Where Jacob is zealous in his faith, Halima is largely uncertain, even disbelieving. However, they are united in their overall respect of the man who's body they are carrying. Their journey to the coast is full of strife and hardship.I enjoyed this one!
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  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    Sometimes I worry that I am too stingy with 5 star reviews. I'll read something and think it's great, but not quite 5 stars for me.Then I read a book like this. The books I save my 5 stars for, so that my 5 stars really mean something. This book is fantastic. I learned about Livingtone and his expeditions, something I didn't really know about previously. The Poisonwood Bible is one of my favorite books, and similarly, this book took us into the intricacies of Africa in the face of colonization. Sometimes I worry that I am too stingy with 5 star reviews. I'll read something and think it's great, but not quite 5 stars for me.Then I read a book like this. The books I save my 5 stars for, so that my 5 stars really mean something. This book is fantastic. I learned about Livingtone and his expeditions, something I didn't really know about previously. The Poisonwood Bible is one of my favorite books, and similarly, this book took us into the intricacies of Africa in the face of colonization. I also appreciated the insight into the slave trade in Africa, during a period of time when it was being outlawed in the UK, and the dynamics of how the slave trade worked. This book touches on a ton of important history in a way that is deft, nuanced, and sympathetic. I felt like it truly captured some of the moral ambiguities of religion, colonization and the slave trade.The author is also excellent at writing from two points of view and capturing very different and essential characters. It honestly felt like I was hearing from two real people who had vastly different life experiences. I liked Halima more than Jacob, but found them both to be sympathetic in their ways. Writing from both of their points of view really allowed the reader to see things from two perspectives without feeling pushed or forced into one viewpoint over the other. The characters feel rich and fully developed, the story complete and compelling.Mostly, this book felt important. It covers a lot of important aspects of history and spends a lot of time in the moral gray area, allowing the reader to experience a slice of history from many perspectives without having any lessons crammed down our throats. Instead, it felt easy to see how the difficulties of life and life experiences can sway people to make decisions that don't feel purely right or wrong, when those decisions look more black and white from a more detached perspective. Would highly recommend.
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  • Nancy Oakes
    January 1, 1970
    on the 4 side of a 3.7Without wasting time, the author reveals right out of the gate what we are about to read:"This is how we carried out of Africa the poor broken body of Bwana Daudi, the Doctor, David Livingstone, so that he could be borne across the sea and buried in his own land." As our narrator reveals, this is a story that "has been told many times before, but always as the story of the Doctor." This time around, however, those whose voices have not been heard have their say about their on the 4 side of a 3.7Without wasting time, the author reveals right out of the gate what we are about to read:"This is how we carried out of Africa the poor broken body of Bwana Daudi, the Doctor, David Livingstone, so that he could be borne across the sea and buried in his own land." As our narrator reveals, this is a story that "has been told many times before, but always as the story of the Doctor." This time around, however, those whose voices have not been heard have their say about their roles in Dr. Livingstone's "last journey" from Chitambo to Bagamoyo, a place whose "very name means to lay to rest the burden of your heart." It was a journey of over 1500 miles and 285 days, as revealed via two narratives: first that of Halima, Livingstone's cook, followed by an account kept in a diary by Jacob Wainwright, a freed slave who had been taken in and educated by missionaries early in his life. As we are told before the first chapter even begins,"On the long and perilous journey to bring him home, ten of our party lost their lives. There are no stones to mark the places where they rest, no epitaphs to announce their deaths. And when we who remain follow where they led, no pilgrims will come to show their children where we lie. But out of that great and troubling darkness came shining light. Our sacrifice burnished the glory of his life." Overall, with just a few complaints from me, it is a fine novel, and some of the comparisons to Laila Lalami's The Moor's Account made by readers is not too far off the mark here (although I liked Out of Darkness Shining Light more), as her book also put the voices of those who followed in the shadows of more famous historical figures front and center. I love this sort of thing, really, when done well. Halima's account begins prior to Livingstone's death at Chitambo and ended all too soon for this reader; Wainwright's rather stifled, pious journal entries purposefully read like Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, as he intends his diary for future publication. Both, however, reveal that outside of the singular cause of delivering Livingstone's remains to the coast, within the group there were conflicts based on ethnic and religious divisions, jealousies, and much more. The members of the caravan also faced hardships including disease, hunger, superstition from outsiders, fear of being captured by slavers and other horrors. Throughout the book there are also ongoing questions about Livingstone's own relationship with slavery, and colonialism is put under the microscope here. Wainwright's account of himself, his worldview, and his desire to be ordained in order to save his fellow Africans stands out as just one example, and his self-serving narrative is often giggleworthy and eyebrow raising as we see him sometimes justifying what he does through the filter of his Christian beliefs. Once I picked it up, that was it; any moment away from this book was spent thinking how quickly I could get back to it. This novel was on the list of my own ten most anticipated books for the remainder of 2019 and I was not at all disappointed. Recommended mainly for readers of historical fiction done well. There's so much bad historical fiction out there, so it was a pleasure to read something so well researched and well written. btw: if anyone in the US would like my copy, I'm not keeping it, so it's yours for free.
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  • Nancy
    January 1, 1970
    "This is how we carried out of Africa the poor broken body of Bwana Duadi, the Doctor, David Livingstone, so that he could be borne across the sear and buried in his own land."~ from Out of Darkness, Shining Light (Being a Faithful Account of the Final Years and Earthly Days of Doctor David Livingstone and His Last Journey form the interior to the Coast of Africa, as Narrated by His African Companions, in Three Volumes) by Petina GappahTruth is often stranger than fiction, for who would imagine "This is how we carried out of Africa the poor broken body of Bwana Duadi, the Doctor, David Livingstone, so that he could be borne across the sear and buried in his own land."~ from Out of Darkness, Shining Light (Being a Faithful Account of the Final Years and Earthly Days of Doctor David Livingstone and His Last Journey form the interior to the Coast of Africa, as Narrated by His African Companions, in Three Volumes) by Petina GappahTruth is often stranger than fiction, for who would imagine that the body of Doctor David Livingstone would be carried 1000 miles across Africa, under threat of dangers including kidnapping into slavery, so he could be shipped back to England and rest in his native land? It seems the stuff of legend. But it happened in 1873. Petina Gappah spent ten years researching this journey, then imagining the forgotten people whose dedication to the Doctor spurred their journey.I had hoped for a great adventure story and found a journey that vividly recreates late 19th c Africa with its clash of cultures, religions, and power. It is filled with unforgettable characters, culminates in an explosive late revelation, and brings to light the impact of colonization. The Doctor's missionary zeal abated while his anti-slavery zeal and respect for the Africans grew. He became obsessed with discovering the source of the Nile, believing its discovery would bring him the status and power to advance his ideals. When Stanley found the missing Livingstone he was already ill but would not return to civilization. The mixed group he had gathered, Africans, Muslims, manumitted slaves, and mission-trained Christian blacks, were left with the responsibility for his remains. They buried his heart and organs, dried his body, and proceeded to walk 279 days to Zanzibar.Gappah tells the story in two voices. The appealing Halima was documented as Livingstone's cook, bought from slavery and freed by him. Halina's mother was a concubine in the house of a servant of the Sultan. Halima was a bondswoman passed from man to man. She dreams of the house Livingstone promised her. Then there is Jacob Wainwright, bought from slavery and sent to the mission school, a devote Christian who quotes The Pilgrim's Progress. Jacob's tale is stilted in language and filled with religious concerns, he is dislikeable and arrogant. He struggles with his passions and questions of faith. And yet, this faithful, educated, ambitious man's hopes are dashed because of his color and ethnicity.The journey is rife with conflict and even death as the men vie for power and control and importance--and women. They face enemies and famine. They see hopeless villages devoid of their youth by the slavers. And everywhere, dry bones tied to trees, kidnapped Africans left by the slavers to die. Instead of welcome and assistance, the Europeans confiscate essentials."...this was no longer just the last journey of the Doctor, but our journey too. I was no longer just about the Doctor, about the wrongs and rights of bearing him home, or burying him here or buying him there, but about all that we had endured. It was about our fallen comrades." ~from Out of Darkness, Shining Light by Petina GappahHow did this one man, this Doctor Livingstone, manage to inspire such loyalty? He was beloved because of his acceptance and respect for those he met, his understanding of human nature, his commitment to ending slavery--liberal Christian values out-of-sync with his time. "But out of that great and troubling darkness came shining light. Our sacrifice burnished the glory of his life." ~from Out of Darkness, Shining Light by Petina GappahI was given access to a free egalley by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
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  • Sarah-Hope
    January 1, 1970
    Written in a pair of completely dissimilar voices, Out of Darkness, Shining Light, recounts the journey taken across Africa to bring the body of David Livingstone to the coast whence it could be returned to England. The journey, decided upon by the Africans traveling with Livingstone at the time of his death, is historical fact. The novel is both an attempt to make vivid the journey as it happened and an exploration of alternate ways that journey might have been experienced by those undertaking Written in a pair of completely dissimilar voices, Out of Darkness, Shining Light, recounts the journey taken across Africa to bring the body of David Livingstone to the coast whence it could be returned to England. The journey, decided upon by the Africans traveling with Livingstone at the time of his death, is historical fact. The novel is both an attempt to make vivid the journey as it happened and an exploration of alternate ways that journey might have been experienced by those undertaking it.Both narrators, a female cook, Halima, and an aspiring minister, Jacob Wainwright, who was rescued from the slave trade and educated at a school for former slaves in India are garrulous. Halima speaks colloquially, loading her tale with bits of gossip and digressions. Wainwright casts the entire journey as his own Pilgrim's Progress, and consciously and carefully uses his own very formal version of the English language to narrative the journey. Both voices require some getting used to, but their very different pacing and perspectives pull readers in.Out of Darkness, Shining Light examines both the motivation of those who explore and "discover"—almost invariably in land inhabited by and well-know to indigenous peoples—and the way we each work to piece our own lives into coherent, purposeful narrative. It offers a thought-provoking read that will remain with readers long after the book is finished.
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  • Suzanne
    January 1, 1970
    Not finishing a book always feels a little like admitting failure. But there are others to be read, so I forge ahead. I got halfway through and just couldn't do it. It's a fascinating concept: the story of moving Dr. Livingstone's (deceased) body from the interior jungle of Africa to the coast to be shipped home to England. Sounds kind of strange, but it's told from the perspective of two specific Africans who were part of his "team" (i.e guides, cooks, "laborers", etc). Rather than alternating Not finishing a book always feels a little like admitting failure. But there are others to be read, so I forge ahead. I got halfway through and just couldn't do it. It's a fascinating concept: the story of moving Dr. Livingstone's (deceased) body from the interior jungle of Africa to the coast to be shipped home to England. Sounds kind of strange, but it's told from the perspective of two specific Africans who were part of his "team" (i.e guides, cooks, "laborers", etc). Rather than alternating between the two, it shifts narrators mid-book. That's where I lost interest. Although the second narrator is more humorous in his narcissism and blind pride, the writing gets bogged down in his voice.
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  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    The setting:"...story of the loyal men and women who carried explorer and missionary [Bwana Daudi, the Doctor, David] Dr. Livingstone's body, his papers and maps, fifteen hundred miles across the continent of Africa, so his remains could be returned home to England and his work preserved there. Narrated by Halima, the doctor's sharp-tongued cook, and Jacob Wainwright, a rigidly pious freed slave..."A tough read because at least at the beginning, the introduction of SO MANY CHARACTERS and SO MUCH The setting:"...story of the loyal men and women who carried explorer and missionary [Bwana Daudi, the Doctor, David] Dr. Livingstone's body, his papers and maps, fifteen hundred miles across the continent of Africa, so his remains could be returned home to England and his work preserved there. Narrated by Halima, the doctor's sharp-tongued cook, and Jacob Wainwright, a rigidly pious freed slave..."A tough read because at least at the beginning, the introduction of SO MANY CHARACTERS and SO MUCH FOREIGN TERMINOLOGY is offputting [there is a 6-page glossary at the end but it is a downfall of an ebook that one cannot flip to the back readily]. So. It took me quite a while to get into the rhythm of the book and not mix up all the characters. But eventually I did though it was a process.The journey through the various tribal territorries that met with many challenges made for interesting reading. I most enjoyed Halima [particularly at the end when she finally was able to enjoy her door], but I found Jacob Wainwright the most intriguing "character"--and that terminology is intended. I thought that for all his intelligence, he often was clueless.For me, this was a slow read. Often dark. And the only instance with humor was a description of a hairwash--the villagers thought Livingstone's "...brains came out when he washed his hair,, then went back in again... it was only the soap he used that created white suds that looked like they had come from within him."Chock full of details. No wonder this book was 20 years in the making. Gappah says that she conducted more than 10 years of historical research.Recommend if you are willing to persevere. Hint: Pay attention to the italics/paragraph at the beginning of each chapter.
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  • Darla
    January 1, 1970
    The fascinating story of the expedition to carry David Livingstone's body to the sea so he could be buried at Westminster Abbey in England. The plaque on his grave says, "Brought by faithful hands over land and sea here rests David Livingstone, missionary traveller, philanthropist, born March 19, 1813, at Blantyre, Lanarkshire, died May 1, 1873, at Chitambo's Village, Ulala."Gappah in her Acknowledgements indicates that she spent almost twenty years writing this book. Her research shines as we f The fascinating story of the expedition to carry David Livingstone's body to the sea so he could be buried at Westminster Abbey in England. The plaque on his grave says, "Brought by faithful hands over land and sea here rests David Livingstone, missionary traveller, philanthropist, born March 19, 1813, at Blantyre, Lanarkshire, died May 1, 1873, at Chitambo's Village, Ulala."Gappah in her Acknowledgements indicates that she spent almost twenty years writing this book. Her research shines as we find ourselves immersed in the journey to the sea. We view life with the Livingstone and the labor of love through two lenses. Halima, the cook, gives us the native view and her perspective is full of Swahili references (glossary included in the back of the book) and peppered with humor. Jacob Wainwright is the earnest servant who delivers his story to the accompaniment of "Pilgrim's Progress." The two rarely agree, but the narrative is all the richer due to their contributions. This new novel is a memorable and inspiring tale that you will not soon forget.Thank you to Scribner and NetGalley for a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Denice Barker
    January 1, 1970
    What do we know of Dr. David Livingstone? Certainly he is no longer a household topic of conversation. Dr. Livingstone was the English explorer who was determined to find the source of the Nile River. That’s about the extent of what I knew, and it almost seems quaint that he devoted his time, efforts and ultimately his life in that pursuit, the world being so small now and all. We are all familiar with the phrase rumored to be spoken by Dr. Stanley upon finding the wandering Dr. Livingstone, “Dr What do we know of Dr. David Livingstone? Certainly he is no longer a household topic of conversation. Dr. Livingstone was the English explorer who was determined to find the source of the Nile River. That’s about the extent of what I knew, and it almost seems quaint that he devoted his time, efforts and ultimately his life in that pursuit, the world being so small now and all. We are all familiar with the phrase rumored to be spoken by Dr. Stanley upon finding the wandering Dr. Livingstone, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” We don’t know that actually happened. Somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of my brain I vaguely recall he was buried in England but his heart was buried in Africa. I wish I knew how I knew that but as I read this book and before I got to that part of the story the memory percolated forward in my mind. But that’s about it. That’s about what I knew.One of my favorite things about books and authors is learning the story behind the story. That’s what this book is. Of course, if we think about it we realize if Dr. Livingstone was going to wander Africa for years looking for the head of a river he was going to need help. We forget that part. We forget the porters, guides, cooks, slaves, and villages encountered en-route. We forget that Dr. Livingstone was wandering during the time slavers were rounding up people to transport across the ocean. We forget the hierarchy of sultans and chiefs and what it’s like travelling through lands not acquainted with a crazy white man’s ways. We also forget that all of these people are so much a part of Dr. Livingstone’s story and he couldn’t have had his story without them. When the time came and Dr. Livingstone dies his companions must decide where to bury him and once the decision is made they must decide how to carry forward with their decision and then do it. And that’s the story behind the story. Not the white man’s story but the people’s. It’s in the first sentence: “This is how we carried out of Africa the poor broken body of Bwana Daudi, the Doctor, David Livingstone, so that he could be borne across the sea and buried in his own land.” The story behind this story is told by two people, Halima, Dr. Livingstone’s cook, she was devoted to him but didn’t spare words when she had to stand up to him. And Jacob Wainwright a freed slave. As this story is told through these two it is also told through the lens of slavery and the hypocracy of owning them, not through the lens of white man’s history. Fascinating, absolutely fascinating.
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  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    The setting:"...story of the loyal men and women who carried explorer and missionary [Bwana Daudi, the Doctor, David] Dr. Livingstone's body, his papers and maps, fifteen hundred miles across the continent of Africa, so his remains could be returned home to England and his work preserved there. Narrated by Halima, the doctor's sharp-tongued cook, and Jacob Wainwright, a rigidly pious freed slave..."A tough read because at least at the beginning, the introduction of SO MANY CHARACTERS and SO MUCH The setting:"...story of the loyal men and women who carried explorer and missionary [Bwana Daudi, the Doctor, David] Dr. Livingstone's body, his papers and maps, fifteen hundred miles across the continent of Africa, so his remains could be returned home to England and his work preserved there. Narrated by Halima, the doctor's sharp-tongued cook, and Jacob Wainwright, a rigidly pious freed slave..."A tough read because at least at the beginning, the introduction of SO MANY CHARACTERS and SO MUCH FOREIGN TERMINOLOGY is offputting [there is a 6-page glossary at the end but it is a downfall of an ebook that one cannot flip to the back readily]. So. It took me quite a while to get into the rhythm of the book and not mix up all the characters. But eventually I did though it was a process.The journey through the various tribal territorries that met with many challenges made for interesting reading. I most enjoyed Halima [particularly at the end when she finally was able to enjoy her door], but I found Jacob Wainwright the most intriguing "character"--and that terminology is intended. I thought that for all his intelligence, he often was clueless.For me, this was a slow read. Often dark. And the only instance with humor was a description of a hairwash--the villagers thought Livingstone's "...brains came out when he washed his hair,, then went back in again... it was only the soap he used that created white suds that looked like they had come from within him."Chock full of details. No wonder this book was 20 years in the making. Gappah says that she conducted more than 10 years of historical research.Recommend if you are willing to persevere. Hint: Pay attention to the italics/paragraph at the beginning of each chapter.
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  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    Zimbabwean author Petina Gappah’s new book, “Out of Darkness, Shining Light” fits into that category of novel occupied by Jean Rhys’ “Wide Sargasso Sea” and Laila Lalami’s “The Moor’s Account,” where a familiar story is told from the point of view of some of its marginalized participants. In this case, the story is Dr. David Livingstone’s travels and death in Africa, and the transportation of his body overland to the sea by the Africans in his retinue so that it could be returned for burial in B Zimbabwean author Petina Gappah’s new book, “Out of Darkness, Shining Light” fits into that category of novel occupied by Jean Rhys’ “Wide Sargasso Sea” and Laila Lalami’s “The Moor’s Account,” where a familiar story is told from the point of view of some of its marginalized participants. In this case, the story is Dr. David Livingstone’s travels and death in Africa, and the transportation of his body overland to the sea by the Africans in his retinue so that it could be returned for burial in Britain. Gappah chooses two different narrators for her book—a slave named Halima who is Dr. Livingstone’s cook, and the missionary-educated, English-speaking Jacob Wainwright, who dreams of becoming a missionary himself. I preferred the voice of the feisty and sharp-tongued Halima, who narrates the first section of the book detailing the events leading up to Livingstone’s death: “They say, oh, Halima, you talk too much. Well, I may talk too much, but I have more than a tongue in my head. I have eyes too.” Halima does see things, in fact, that the self-righteous Jacob, who fancies himself more intelligent than anyone else in Livingstone’s expedition, is blind to, and although I missed Halima’s singular voice once the pious Jacob takes over the narrative, it is this dissonance between what Halima has intuited and foreseen at the beginning of the novel and what Jacob trusts and reports during his section that gives the book a lot of its tension. (And Halima does return at the end of the novel in a very satisfying postscript of sorts.)Gappah has certainly done her research—this book was 20 years in the making and it shows in every meticulous and colorful detail she drops along the path Livingstone’s corpse was carried. I wanted to read this initially to fill in the gaps of my understanding of David Livingstone, his explorations in Africa, and his famous meeting with Henry Morton Stanley, and I wasn’t disappointed in that, but it was the immersion in Africa and its people—and the depiction of the human cost of slavery and colonialism by those who had suffered both—that for me was the unexpected pleasure and the real story of “Out of Darkness, Shining Light.” I look forward to reading Gappah’s earlier books and to seeing what she has planned for the future.Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for providing me with an ARC of this book in return for my honest review.
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  • Jade
    January 1, 1970
    What an amazing story! Out of Darkness, Shining Light is the story of how David Livingstone’s body was carried across the African continent by those who has accompanied him on his journey while alive. Told through the words of Halima, his cook, and Jacob Wainwright, a freed slave, with extracts from the doctor’s own journals framing each chapter, the novel depicts a heroic adventure that has never been told in such a manner before. Petina Gappah writes beautifully, and created two very distinct What an amazing story! Out of Darkness, Shining Light is the story of how David Livingstone’s body was carried across the African continent by those who has accompanied him on his journey while alive. Told through the words of Halima, his cook, and Jacob Wainwright, a freed slave, with extracts from the doctor’s own journals framing each chapter, the novel depicts a heroic adventure that has never been told in such a manner before. Petina Gappah writes beautifully, and created two very distinct voices in the novel. This in turn provides the reader with a well-rounded overview of the journey, a more personal account from Halima’s side, a drier, more technical account from Jacob Wainwright’s. The novel is a story of loyalty and love, but also a real insight into the intricacies of the African slave trade, the roles of countries such as the UK and the US, and the legacies of colonialism. Yes, it is historical fiction, but it is based on years and years of research and true stories, and it is incredibly important to read these types of narratives. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy, and to Petina Gappah for the beautiful novel. A must read.
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  • Annie
    January 1, 1970
    Petina Gappah’s novel, Out of Darkness, Shining Light, is based on the true story of David Livingstone‘s last (posthumous) journey. When Livingstone died in Ujiji (in what is now western Tanzania) in 1873, the members of his expedition buried his heart there before preserving the rest of his body and carrying him to Zanzibar so that it can be shipped back to the United Kingdom. Gappah’s narrators are pulled from the pages of Livingstone’s journal and from the journal written by a European-educat Petina Gappah’s novel, Out of Darkness, Shining Light, is based on the true story of David Livingstone‘s last (posthumous) journey. When Livingstone died in Ujiji (in what is now western Tanzania) in 1873, the members of his expedition buried his heart there before preserving the rest of his body and carrying him to Zanzibar so that it can be shipped back to the United Kingdom. Gappah’s narrators are pulled from the pages of Livingstone’s journal and from the journal written by a European-educated African man who joined Livingstone shortly before the explorer’s death. Halima, Livingstone’s cook, and Jacob Wainwright could not be more different—making for a tale that is often as humorous as it is harrowing...Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.
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  • Dawn Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    DNF10%Zero starsI just cannot. I tried, I really did [I rarely give up on a book before 100 pages], and I just cannot. There are too many characters, there is too much jumping around, there is just too much I am not understanding. I am completely bored. I just cannot finish. And I a very, very, disappointed. This was one book I was truly looking forward to reading. Thank you to NetGalley and Scribner Publishing for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Alexis (hookedtobooks)
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you @simonschusterca for the copy of this book!-I was really excited to read this book! I I teach this subject every year, and I’m always looking for new perspectives and voices when teaching colonialism and imperialism! The book is about the death of Dr. Livingstone, who went missing in Africa, and the explorer Henry Morton Stanley is sent to go and find him. While Stanley is definitely in the book, this interaction does not play a key role in the book, but only glimpses. The book really Thank you @simonschusterca for the copy of this book!-I was really excited to read this book! I I teach this subject every year, and I’m always looking for new perspectives and voices when teaching colonialism and imperialism! The book is about the death of Dr. Livingstone, who went missing in Africa, and the explorer Henry Morton Stanley is sent to go and find him. While Stanley is definitely in the book, this interaction does not play a key role in the book, but only glimpses. The book really centres around Livingstone’s cook, as well as a preacher who was previously enslaved. I was really looking forward to getting the Indigenous African perspective on Livingstone, as mostly what we get is the colonial perspective. But I was just not hooked to either perspective for some reason. I’m not sure if it’s because the book jumped around, or if one of the perspectives was in a diary entry mode, but I just couldn’t immerse myself in this story. I think it’s very important to read works about multiple perspectives, but this one was really about the death of Livingstone and how those around him reacted to it, and I just couldn’t get hooked into the characters and what they were feeling! I still encourage you to check this out yourself though if this is a topic that interests you! If you do read it, I would love to discuss your thoughts on the book!
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  • Emmanuelle Works
    January 1, 1970
    What a fascinating read! This is a fictional story, based on original diaries, of the Expedition that brought the body of Dr. Livingstone back to the African Coast and, later on, England. It is told from the perspective of one of his cooks, a spirited African woman, and an African man of his party, a scribe as he calls himself, who became a Christian after being rescued from a slave ship as a child and dreams of becoming a missionary. The author is a professor from Zimbabwe who did extensive res What a fascinating read! This is a fictional story, based on original diaries, of the Expedition that brought the body of Dr. Livingstone back to the African Coast and, later on, England. It is told from the perspective of one of his cooks, a spirited African woman, and an African man of his party, a scribe as he calls himself, who became a Christian after being rescued from a slave ship as a child and dreams of becoming a missionary. The author is a professor from Zimbabwe who did extensive research for many years. The voices are original, strong, and honest. Their stories are incredible stories that are rarely heard because we always focus on the colonialist leader of the exploratory journeys instead of the dozens of guides, cooks, porters, hunters who accompany them the whole way. But those journeys would be impossible without them, and their stories are the true treasures.
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  • Victoria
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Scribner and Netgalley for sharing an advance copy of this novel. This was an okay read, but I didn’t find it as engaging as I thought I would. As other reviewers have stated, it is not a fast paced book. I felt reading it at times was as plodding as the trek described in the book. In terms of historical fiction, the author has done a great job researching and giving you the feeling of being there. As for the characters, I found to be too close to caricatures. And the tale itself, whil Thanks to Scribner and Netgalley for sharing an advance copy of this novel. This was an okay read, but I didn’t find it as engaging as I thought I would. As other reviewers have stated, it is not a fast paced book. I felt reading it at times was as plodding as the trek described in the book. In terms of historical fiction, the author has done a great job researching and giving you the feeling of being there. As for the characters, I found to be too close to caricatures. And the tale itself, while interesting as it went, turned out to be rather depressing. So not a winner for me.
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  • David V.
    January 1, 1970
    Received as an ARC from the publisher. Started 8-29-19. Finished 9-3-19. The story of Dr. David Livingstone's (the man who searched for the source of the Nile River) body being carried from the interior of Africa to the Indian Ocean coast so it could be transported back to England for burial, as told by his native cook, and by a pious freed slave. Along the way there are tribal conflicts; personality feuds; superstitions galore; and even murders, but the dessicated corpse(minus its heart) surviv Received as an ARC from the publisher. Started 8-29-19. Finished 9-3-19. The story of Dr. David Livingstone's (the man who searched for the source of the Nile River) body being carried from the interior of Africa to the Indian Ocean coast so it could be transported back to England for burial, as told by his native cook, and by a pious freed slave. Along the way there are tribal conflicts; personality feuds; superstitions galore; and even murders, but the dessicated corpse(minus its heart) survives the 1500 mile journey and eventually back to Europe. Interesting to hear this tale told by the natives rather than the British overseers--this is a more insightful telling. The British were not all goodness and charm as history books tend to portray them. They may have verbally expressed distaste for slavery but they participated in it, much to the chagrin of their freed workers.
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  • MandM
    January 1, 1970
    DNF. So I probably shouldn’t rate it. Was given an advance reader copy and just couldn’t stick with it. So many books, so little time......
  • Viral
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Simon and Shuster for the ARC at BEA 2019! This book was an interesting and relatively novel story about the people who brought British colonizer David Livingstone's body back to England. While I found the writing and style interesting (and enjoyed the descriptions of a colonizing central Africa), I found the main plot line to be ehh and not nearly as interesting as the stories of the people carrying Livingstone's body. A quick and interesting historical fiction book, but I wish this a Thanks to Simon and Shuster for the ARC at BEA 2019! This book was an interesting and relatively novel story about the people who brought British colonizer David Livingstone's body back to England. While I found the writing and style interesting (and enjoyed the descriptions of a colonizing central Africa), I found the main plot line to be ehh and not nearly as interesting as the stories of the people carrying Livingstone's body. A quick and interesting historical fiction book, but I wish this author hadn't felt the need to make so much of this book about a literal dead white guy when there was so much interesting nonwhite life to talk about instead.
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  • lisa
    January 1, 1970
    It's interesting that I never thought much about Dr. David Livingstone until earlier this year when he was briefly mentioned in the beginning of the novel The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell. And now this novel, a story not really about Dr. Livingstone, but about his death, and the journey to bring his body back to England.This amazing novel is told from two different points of view: Jacob Wainwright, and Halima. I loved Halima, and I wish the whole story had been told from her view. She was such a It's interesting that I never thought much about Dr. David Livingstone until earlier this year when he was briefly mentioned in the beginning of the novel The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell. And now this novel, a story not really about Dr. Livingstone, but about his death, and the journey to bring his body back to England.This amazing novel is told from two different points of view: Jacob Wainwright, and Halima. I loved Halima, and I wish the whole story had been told from her view. She was such a smart, strong woman, and I could hear her bossy, know-it-all tone perfectly. Although Jacob's pompous, self-righteous voice is fantastic, I found it very difficult to read his section just because so much of it is showy religious fervor, and overblown language. This is not a criticism because it shows how well Petina Gappah wrote her characters, and I could imagine the rest of the traveling party was rolling their eyes and tuning out Jacob just as much as I was. However, if you skim through his endless prayers there is a pretty great story in his section.I really liked this book, and it inspired many Google searches on the characters mentioned. And I discovered that Jacob Wainwright actually did keep a journal during his journey to the coast, and that is has since been lost (and rumors abound as to why). I so appreciate having writers that write about people and places I would never know about otherwise.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    2.75. In my personal opinion, this novel started out well and overall had some interesting parts, but the taking over of the narration by Jacob Wainwright was a mistake. Every word of his was dripping with religion and righteousness and it made it boring/annoying to read. I would have liked the majority of the narration to be from Halima instead.There was one quote, however, that really resonated with me: "I understand now what it means when the urge to travel bites you like a mosquito that give 2.75. In my personal opinion, this novel started out well and overall had some interesting parts, but the taking over of the narration by Jacob Wainwright was a mistake. Every word of his was dripping with religion and righteousness and it made it boring/annoying to read. I would have liked the majority of the narration to be from Halima instead.There was one quote, however, that really resonated with me: "I understand now what it means when the urge to travel bites you like a mosquito that give you a fever that means your feet are never still and your mind is always wandering."*I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Virginia McGee Butler
    January 1, 1970
    Petina Gappah’s novel, Out of Darkness, Shining Light, begins oddly with the death of David Livingstone, the great explorer missionary. The novel, that reads like nonfiction, tells the story of his African companions, sixty-nine women, men, and children, traveling more than 1,000 miles over a course of nine months. This extraordinary commitment takes Livingstone’s body to the sea and back to England for burial. The narrative begins with the voice of Halima, his cook, “This is how we carried out Petina Gappah’s novel, Out of Darkness, Shining Light, begins oddly with the death of David Livingstone, the great explorer missionary. The novel, that reads like nonfiction, tells the story of his African companions, sixty-nine women, men, and children, traveling more than 1,000 miles over a course of nine months. This extraordinary commitment takes Livingstone’s body to the sea and back to England for burial. The narrative begins with the voice of Halima, his cook, “This is how we carried out of Africa the poor broken body of Bwana Daudi, the Doctor, David Livingstone, so that he could be borne across the sea and buried in his own land.” Halima recounts the beginnings as the group debates how to remove his heart for burial in Africa and dry his body to make travel with it less complicated. Her simple folk wisdom permeates her portrayal of the relationships and competitiveness among the group. Jacob Wainwright, a self-righteous freed slave, picks up the narrative for the trip. Full of his own importance and free to excuse what the reader will see as flaws in his character, he remains committed to leading the group to get Dr. Livingstone’s maps, papers, and body back to England. Along the way, both narrators reveal Livingstone’s two obsessions, the search for the beginning of the Nile River and the abhorrence he feels for slavery. Each of them gives a conclusion for their own journey when the mission is accomplished.Trading between the two voices, Petina’s writing shifts into each personality, yet remains lyrical. Based on much research to be found in the bibliography, the book reads like carefully woven nonfiction and leaves the reader feeling every mile of the journey and every emotional turn of events. It is not a light read but a good one.
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