For God and Glory

For God and Glory

by Tim Jeal
     
 
A sweeping historical novel of Africa from the critically acclaimed author of Cushing's Crusade. In this epic historical novel, four honorable people--a fervent missionary, his humanist young wife, a British army officer, and an African tribal chief--become trapped by their beliefs, their passions, and the tides of history in a drama where the stakes are not only

Overview

A sweeping historical novel of Africa from the critically acclaimed author of Cushing's Crusade. In this epic historical novel, four honorable people--a fervent missionary, his humanist young wife, a British army officer, and an African tribal chief--become trapped by their beliefs, their passions, and the tides of history in a drama where the stakes are not only their lives, but, in microcosm, the future of a continent.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The suppression by the British of a tribal rebellion in 1896 Rhodesia forms the subject of this robust, uncompromisingly realistic new novel (after A Marriage of Convenience, etc.) from Jeal, biographer of African adventurers David Livingstone and Robert Baden-Powell. Robert Haslam, indefatigable nonconformist missionary, whisks his naive young bride, Clara Musson, from England to the African bush, where he aims to convert Chief Mponda and his tribe to Christianity. High-spirited Clara, however, oscillating between awe of her husband and repulsion at his fanatical zeal, is dismayed by a continent festering with disease, witchcraft, female circumcision, wife-beating and atrocities inflicted by black and white alike. Her disillusionment turns to fear when Mponda's murderous son, Makufa, determined to save his father from the disgrace of baptism, hatches a rebellion. Clara gains the protection, and then love, of a quixotic British captain, Francis Vaughan, who futilely tries to enlist Haslam in a plan to snuff out the simmering revolt. In the novel's violent conclusion, British troops armed with Maxim guns crush the uprising, slaughtering spear-carrying warriors who view Christian missionaries as front-men for relentless colonial exploitation. The light Jeal shines is harsh, but it brightly illumines the forcesboth foreign and indigenousthat have warped Africa's socioeconomic development. (Aug.)
Roberta Johnson
Clara Musson, the only daughter of a wealthy British widower, falls in love with charismatic missionary Robert Haslam. Despite her father's frantic fears for her safety, she travels to southern Africa with her new husband to support his efforts to convert to Christianity the powerful chief Mponda of the Venda tribe. There she finds a beautiful, harsh world of pride and long-held custom that is being split down the middle by the increasing British and German oppression of the African tribes until finally they rise up against the white settlers, miners, and soldiers. Jeal's setting is vivid and the passions of his characters deeply felt, but the rapidly shifting points of view, often between three or more voices in a page, result in a choppy and ultimately uninvolving narrative. Still, Jeal has chosen the landscape he knows well: the dramatic canvas of Africa at the turn of the century. Historical fiction buffs will be appreciative.
Kirkus Reviews
A splendidly nuanced story of four late Victorians trying to live with honor amid conflicting moral imperatives in British Colonial Africa.

Clara Musson, Jeal's (Until the Colors Fade, 1976, etc.) protagonist, is the only daughter of a wealthy English factory- owner. The Mussons are devout Christians, but Clara, a remarkable mix of cool thinking and passions, both moral and spiritual, lost her faith when her mother died. Later, a romantic attachment ended badly, so when charismatic Robert Haslam, a missionary from Africa, comes to town, Clara is especially receptive. Robert, devout, even saintly, has dedicated his life to preaching the Gospel and improving the lives of African villagers in what is now Zimbabwe. The two marry, but Robert returns to Africa ahead of Clara, and on her journey by wagon to Robert's mission she meets Francis Vaughan, a chivalrous but impecunious British soldier. The fourth exemplar of virtue is Mponda, the tribal chief whom Robert wants to convert, but Mponda's family and advisers, particularly Nashu, the traditional medicine man, suspect that Christianity is part of the white man's efforts to take away their land and customs. Clara, though appalled by how little support Robert's mission has, does her best to help. But white prospectors and black fears and ambitions—Mponda's son wants to be chief—create the setting for the moral choices all four must make. War breaks out, and Clara, disillusioned by Robert's obsession to convert Mponda, falls in love with Francis, who arrives with troops to put the rebellion down. Choices, all honorable and some fatal, are finally made during the ensuing carnage, and Clara, understanding that one does what one thinks is the best, though the costs can be enormous, leaves Africa for good. Love and "quieter pleasures," however, are at hand.

One of those rare novels that raises big questions and, without being didactic, tries to answer them with a story that satisfies richly on every level.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780688118716
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
07/01/1996
Pages:
448
Product dimensions:
6.55(w) x 9.61(h) x 1.23(d)

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