Do you want to explore the depths of Western Africa without leaving your armchair? If the answer is 'yes', this novel is your mode of transport.
Two cousins, Emily and Clemmie are very different in their outlook on life. Emily, a primary school teacher has just parted from her boyfriend and is 'licking' her wounds. Clemmie is fancy free, a drifter not one to worry over life's obstacles, very unlike her cousin. Both girls meet at Great Aunt Maud's funeral and are shaken to the core when the contents of the will are disclosed.
' I appoint my two great neices , Emily and Clementine Kingsley, to be executors of this part of my will. I request that my ashes be transported to Mali, formerely French Sudan, in Western Africa. My final resting place is to be Timadjlalen in the Sahara Desert.'
After this initial shock Clemmie grasps the opportunity of a lifetime whilst Emily needs much persuasion before she commits.The reason for the journey is not disclosed in the will and so the girls probe Beryl Timmins, Aunt Mary's oldest friend.Beryl, a feeble lady is about to retire to a nursing home and hopes she can block out parts of her past life for good, therefore she is most reluctant to answer the girls questions.
On this note the girls embark on their momentous journey, through landscape they could only have dreamt. Their modes of transport ranged from planes to camels and their accommodation was anything but conventional at times but always beautiful ---
'The men had made a nest of blankets behind the row of camel saddles, which acted as an efficient wind break, and were already settling down. Within a few minutes they appeared to be asleep and Clemmie and I lay for a while watching shooting stars travelling across the brilliant night sky as if drawn by a silver fingertip.'
As the story unfolds , the mystery of the Sahara deepens and Great Aunt Mary's sixty year old secret is disclosed.
A wonderful book, I loved it. Each chapter is narrated in turn by Emily, Clemmie and Beryl Timmis and they all explore the mystery from different angles.
I read this book as part of Summer Vacation Reading Challenge.