#bookreview – Three Weeks in December – by Audrey Schulman

Two seemingly unrelated stories are beautifully woven together in this exceptional novel of Africa. Both are compelling, page-turning narratives, with evocative language and fascinating characters. And together they offer a rich portrait of life in the central part of this continent spanning 100 years. Awarded five stars on Goodreads.

threeweeksindecAudrey Schulman introduces us first to Jeremy, a deeply repressed American engineer, hired by the railroad in the late 19th century, to build a railroad across British East Africa, to facilitate European colonization. Supervising hundreds of imported workers from India and navigating the many distinct local cultures and tribes, Jeremy feels alien in this world. Until he is forced by his position to track two lionesses who have been hunting and killing both workers and locals. Then, he begins to truly face his internal demons.

Schulman’s second story takes place 60 years later when a brilliant PhD is approached by a pharmaceutical company intent on locating a vine that grows in Africa, which may revolutionize the treatment of stroke. Despite the social limitations of her Asperger’s diagnosis, Max, a woman, eagerly accepts the company’s offer and takes off for a remote research station in the Congo. As she gets to know the other researchers and begins searching for the mysterious vine, Max also meets a gorilla family, whose behaviors she is able to read more astutely than she can humans. As political events turn violent and the gorillas face the growing danger of encroaching humanity — Max has to reexamine her loyalties.

The cast of characters is wonderful. Otombe, the wise native hunter who shows Jeremy how to track lions. Dubois, a French biologist determined to save the gorillas, no matter what the cost. Yoko, a researcher who is subtly trying to undermine Max’s pharmaceutical work. Then throw in some hunger, malaria, tribes with armed children, and a few brain-eating worms. It’s quite an amazing story.

audreyschulman
Audrey Schulman

More about the author, Audrey Schulman.

You might be interested in my review of another Schulman novel, A House Named Brazil.

2 Comments

  1. I’m interested in practically any novel that has a main character with Asperger’s Syndrome, but for some reason I haven’t bought a copy of this yet (I’m almost positive it’s not at my local library.) Great review; just out of curiosity are the two stories (Jeremy and Max) directly linked in any way, even though they’re set many years apart? I think it would be pretty cool if the author made them connect.

    Like

    1. Yes, the two stories are most definitely linked. Though the connection is revealed very late in the book. I hope you give this one a try. I think you’ll enjoy it.

      Liked by 1 person

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