RSS Feed (xml)

Powered By

Skin Design:
Free Blogger Skins

Powered by Blogger

Friday, February 13, 2009



A year after her husband's death, Heather cannot just move on; her life is falling apart. Her son wants to take her to a life care facility to spend the rest of her life there. But does Heather need protection? Why is George treating her like a child?

William Salmond's Grandma is a captivating narrative of a woman who has lost hope until she receives an urgent letter from her granddaughter on a voluntary mission in Uganda asking her to come to her rescue. 

It's also an honest account of life in northern Uganda; of a former child rebel who returns from the bush too shocked to speak and how the warmth of his folks (not necessarily his kin) helps him find his voice and smile again. It's about a people living in hard times but who act with courage and compassion and find true happiness.

Grandma is realistic fiction that serves didactic purposes; helping us to reflect on how best to use our prime of life or how to live in accord with one another. The author's idyllic treatment of Uganda's natural endowments is remarkable considering he's Scottish.

Here's how he captures Heather after landing at Entebbe airport: "She stood for a few moments at the bottom of the steps and looked over the vast expanse of Lake Victoria, the fabled source of River Nile, and the ultimate prize of all nineteenth century explorers…"

From the old jalopies on our roads to the stretches of green shrubs, the buffalos by the Nile and the vast expanse of the sky and the myriad stars hovering above us, Salmond lyrically depicts the country as generously gifted by nature. In the novel, you meet sunflowers "bowing in prayer". You literally taste a traditional concoction that heals arthritis called "The Devil’s Claw" and the "Philly Soup" made from the bones of fish and named after the late musician and HIV/Aids activist Philly Bongoley Lutaaya.

Oil, a recent discovery, gets a mention too. One of the searchers, Hans, is not interested if it's going to result in better schools and hospitals; he only wants to enrich himself.

Heather observes: "Oil and minerals are bad news. They create too much greed…oil discovery could turn this paradise into an industrial wasteland."

The author creates many heroes yet manages to remain transparent. The plot is uncomplicated with every chapter ending in suspense. He writes simply but colourfully; a style that reminded me of the works of John Steinbeck, especially Of Mice and Men.

In acknowledgement, Salmond notes: "Uganda remains a secret place to so many people in the world...I hope that Grandma's adventures will open up this wonderful new world to many readers."

It sure did for me. With only 91 pages, I read the book in four hours and again and it was a smooth, funny, instructive and overall terrific read that by all accounts deserves a place in your bookshelf.