Swim­ming on the Lawn

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Best Weekend - - NEWS - Katharine Eng­land

Yas­min Hamid, Fre­man­tle Press, $16.99

This beau­ti­fully writ­ten novel paints a de­light­ful pic­ture of a girl grow­ing up, as did its au­thor, in 1960s Khar­toum with an English mother, a Su­danese fa­ther and three lively sib­lings. There are visits to the li­brary to bor­row all the clas­si­cal chil­dren’s tales, break­fast at 10 with beans and salad and a treat of peanut-stuffed toma­toes, and rou­tine main­te­nance in­clud­ing hav­ing mat­tresses re­cov­ered and walls limed. There is a jour­ney with an un­cle by boat, train and don­key to a vil­lage over­looked by an­cient pyra­mids, and big fes­ti­vals such as the prophet’s birth­day with pressed sugar treats for the chil­dren. The book ends trag­i­cally with the first in­ti­ma­tions of the civil war that will de­stroy its peace­ful, civilised lifestyle and blight the coun­try to this day.

AGE 9+

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