Book Review: Suki by Beryl Kingston

It seems that all the books I’ve agreed to read & review have all been published in April & May. It wouldn’t be an issue – I can knock out 5 or 6 books a week, easy-peasy – but (and that’s a doozy) – life has been throwing a bit of chaos over the last few weeks and my reading time has been limited. Agh. Also, a bunch of the books have been sagas – not quick little pocket-friendly reads. They’ve had some heft to them. So we do what we can and refuse to let reading become a pressure.

My most recent read was Suki by Beryl Kingston, courtesy of Agora Books via NetGalley. You may recall I was a part of a blog tour for one of Kingston’s other novels, Two Silver Crosses. I have tried to eloquently frame the words I want to use for my review, but can’t quite find the right ones so you are stuck with my meagre offerings.

Suki was originally published in two parts: Only Young in 2000 and Only Human in 2001. It was republished under the current title on April 18, 2019. As with other Agora titles I’ve read, the cover art is highly appealing.

As for the novel itself, I had such mixed feelings the entire time I read it. The title character, Suki, is an unwed wet nurse who finds herself lying to provide a future for her own child. She is deceitful, naive, and yet, likeable. The family she works for is ridiculous and unsympathetic. Her lover is despicable… until you get to know him. There is so much going on in this book and there’s a whole scope of complexities happening in the plot.

The author touches on (unfair) expectations for women, the despicability and normalcy of the slave trade, the absurd habits and entertainments of society in the 18th century. You’ll travel all over England, across the sea, through the West Indies and Africa and back again and in between. You’ll meet characters you love, you hate, you love to hate and hate to love and sometimes it will be all of the above for a single personage depending on where you are in the book. My emotions were engaged – I was angry, I was incredulous, I was disheartened – I was also entwined quite intricately into the sinuous route from first chapter to final sentence.

As mentioned before, Ms. Kingston writes remarkable tales – sagas that take an investment of time. However, they’re very well written with descriptive prose and colourful situations. Well worth the time required when you close the cover for the last time with a possible tear and a heartfelt sigh.

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