She is a young Dutch arthistorian and she travelled with her husband to the east of Congo/Kinshassa where they settled in Goma. Her husband worked for a humanitarian organization. She did research for a novel and in between the hard times and the times at the brink of fleeing the country she started to write a novel. Her first novel.
The research is visible in what surrounds the novel: thanks to many people, a list of foreign words and a short history of Congo. In this way the novel becomes historical fiction or fictional history. A medical doctor and his wife who work in a small hospital in Goma are real people.
The main charcater in the book is a young girl, named Sara, who lives on a small island in Lake Kivu. She leaves the island to travel by boat to Goma, where she wants to study at Goma University. She stays with her brother Prince and his wife Espérance. She needs to get money to pay for her studies sho she accepts a job in a small hosital, where she start as a cleaner, but in due time she assist the doctor and his wife and she gets the chance to study in the books of the doctor. In the end she travels to Bukavu to study for midwife (not doctor!).
But this is not a story of a young girl who leaves home to work and study in other towns. It is a story of a young woman who carries a burden and a secret of sexual violence. Sharing this burden is a tough job. Whom can she trust? Her trust is being destroyed by the first woman whom she shares her secret with. Her sister-in-law carries her own secret, but in the end the two momen get to see eye to eye.
Sara left the island of her youth and she ran away from the young man who raped her. She stays at a distance of a choirleader in a church in Goma. It is difficult for her to trust, a man, a woman, anyone. When a man says to a woman: ‘You can trust me!’, the first thing you have to do is distrust him. Sara learns the hard way.
The violence in the area of Goma is at the background, the rebelgroup M23 is getting closer and closer to the people in town. Informants could be everywhere.
Sara is a young woman who is new to world of city-life. She is able to challenge other people (she puts her hands on her hips), she knows her way with words. At the same time she is insecure and vulnerable.
Marieke has made a good start with her first novel.
Marieke Luiten – Vleugelslag – Zoetermeer 2014