Spanning some ninety years and covering times of great political change in South Africa, Soul Sisters is an ambitious novel about what happens when political aspirations come above all else.
Caught up amidst this political backdrop are the ‘Soul Sisters’ themselves, Jen and Kemi, raised together by Jen’s parents in Edinburgh before journeying to South Africa as adults. There they become embroiled with Solam Rhoyi, a young, up-and-coming politician whose actions will have far reaching implications for both women.
Written in fifteen parts (including prologue and epilogue) author Lesley Lokko keeps the reader interested with short chapters which speed through the years and carefully planted seeds which the reader hopes will eventually bloom into fully-fledged explanations. Not all appears to be fully explained by the end; Lokko preferring to leave the reader to piece the jigsaw puzzle together themselves but with a whole host of likeable and intriguing characters there is plenty to enjoy in this book.
Foremost of these characters are Jen and Kemi who seem to be polar opposites in so many ways but are the first person each other calls upon in times of need until one of them commits a betrayal which may be impossible to forgive. Kemi seems to have it all and is composed and sure of herself in the early sections of the book. Jen on the other hand has no idea what she wants to do, jumps from job to job and can see no way out of it all. They are then, indicative of many ‘sisters’, but the family also has some deep, dark secrets trailing back to their grandfather, George McFadden, who forms the basis of the early part of the book working in Southern Rhodesia.
Despite the odd clumsy moment – Solam Rhoyi’s introduction to the sisters almost unbelievable in its coincidence – the prose is otherwise well-crafted and zips along nicely. Lokko draws on her international experience and knowledge of key locations in the book which adds an authenticity and expertise to proceedings and ultimately the reader feels they could keep on reading the characters stories for many more years to come.