The 1960s in the Belgian Congo, Africa, a few years before the country's independence.
Story: A young girl in the Bashilele tribe runs away during her wedding, escapes into the bush and is attacked by a pack of hyenas but the girl, Buakane, is found by a white missionary, before the hyenas can do serious harm. The missionary takes her to a boarding school for girls like herself, runaway child brides. The school is run by Belgian missionaries in the Congo.
Julia Newton, a young college graduate from Ohio, joins the missionaries as a teacher in the school. This is the story of Julia and the story of the runaway Buakane, both different in background and points of view, but both having to adapt to an environment strange to them, though for different reasons.
Comments: I liked that the story was told with a lot of humor, even though the setting in the African bush was alarming for Julia, as she had to be constantly on the alert for hyenas, poisonous snakes, and the threat of revenge by the Bashilele warriors who might come to the school at any time to retrieve their runaway brides. Julia is considered unsuitable for missionary work by the other missionaries as she challenges their stringent and narrow rules and outlook. She is befriended though by Hank, a widowed missionary, and his young daughter, Clementine, and by her house helper, the astute African woman called Cripple.
As this story is based on the author's experience growing up in a missionary family in the Belgian Congo, I took the situation, the dangers, the differences in culture to be fairly close to fact. I liked that the story was told from both points of view, the Africans' and the white missionaries'. Both groups viewed each other's appearance, habits, beliefs, food, and culture with equal amounts of alarm, dismay, and even disgust. Tamar Myer's style of writing brings humor and clarity to the story, however, and is very charming in its own way.
I highly recommend this for mystery lovers and for those who want to know more about the lives of missionaries in Africa.
Title: The Girl Who Married an Eagle by Tamar Myers
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (April 30, 2013)
Genre: mystery set in the Belgian Congo era
Objective rating: 5/5
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Tamar grew up eating elephant, hippopotamus and even monkey. She attended a boarding school that was two days away by truck, and sometimes it was necessary to wade through crocodile infested waters to reach it. Other dangers she encountered as a child were cobras, deadly green mambas, and the voracious armies of driver ants that ate every animal (and human) that didn’t get out of their way.
Today Tamar lives in the Carolinas with her American-born husband. She is the author of 36 novels (most of which are mysteries), a number of published short stories, and hundreds of articles on gardening. Find out more about Tamar and her books at her website.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the author/publisher for a review galley of this book.