A Treacherous Paradise

A Treacherous Paradise


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A Treacherous Paradise by Henning Mankell

From the internationally acclaimed author of the Kurt Wallander crime novels, a powerful stand-alone novel set in early-twentieth-century Sweden and Mozambique, whose vividly drawn female protagonist is awoken from her naïveté by her exposure to racism and by her own unexpected inner strengths.

Cold and poverty define Hanna Renström’s childhood in remote northern Sweden, and in 1904, at nineteen, she boards a ship for Australia in hope of a better life.  But none of her hopes—or fears—prepares her for the life she will lead. After two brief marriages both leave her widowed, she finds herself the owner of a bordello in Portuguese East Africa, a world where colonialism and white colonists rule, where she is isolated within white society by her profession and her gender, and, among the bordello’s black prostitutes, by her color. As Hanna’s story unfurls over the next several years in this “treacherous paradise,” she wrestles with a devastating loneliness and with the racism she’s meant to unthinkingly adopt. And as her life becomes increasingly intertwined with the prostitutes’, she moves inexorably toward the moment when she will make a decision that defies all the expectations society has of her and, more important, those she has of herself.

Gripping in its drama, evocative and searing in its portrait of colonial Africa, A Treacherous Paradise is, at its heart, a deeply moving story of a woman who manages to wrench wisdom, empathy, and grace from the most unforgiving circumstances.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307961228
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/09/2013
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 1,258,649
Product dimensions: 6.74(w) x 9.34(h) x 1.32(d)

About the Author

HENNING MANKELL's novels have been translated into forty languages and have sold more than thirty million copies worldwide. He is the first winner of the Ripper Award (the new European prize for crime fiction) and has also received the Glass Key and Golden Dagger Awards. His Kurt Wallander mysteries were adapted into a PBS television series starring Kenneth Branagh. Mankell divides his time between Sweden and Mozambique.


Mozambique, Africa

Date of Birth:

February 3, 1948

Place of Birth:

Stockholm, Sweden


Folkskolan Elementary Shool, Sveg; Högre Allmäna Läroverket, Borås

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A Treacherous Paradise 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a big fan of this author. I find any and all of his books are important for our times. He takes on social justice issues that are relevant.
tedfeit0 More than 1 year ago
In an Afterward, the author states that he generally writes his stories based on a truth. In this case the true story is extremely fragmentary, and consequently is “therefore based on the little we know, and all that we don’t know.” It is the story of a poor young Swedish woman, Hanna Renstrom, who left her homeland in 1905 as a ship’s cook and jumped ship on what was then Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique). She was married on board to the third mate, who died shortly later. She rented a room in what she thought was a hotel, but really was a brothel, whose owner eventually fell in love with her and married her. That marriage also was short-lived, and Hanna inherited ownership of the very profitable brothel and her husband’s extensive wealth. Not bad for a young woman with no education, who presumably taught herself to read and spoke no Portuguese (but carried a Portuguese dictionary with her from Sweden). So much for the introduction. What follows is an extraordinary tale of personal development which staggers the mind. From an impoverished, illiterate housemaid in Sweden, Hanna becomes a wise, sensitive person, keen on righting the wrongs of colonial Africa and the abuse of the indigenous black population, as unlikely as that may seem to the critical eye. But it gives Mr. Mankell the platform he requires to rail against the racism rampant throughout the colony and its white ruling class. The story is told in simple language, recounting the times through Hanna’s innocent eyes. Certainly the author has intimate knowledge of the land about which he writes, since he divides the year between Africa and Sweden. The novel is an excellent example of Mr. Mankell’s ability not only to portray characters, but to fully develop them progressively. Recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mankell creates a character so feminine in her weakness, stoic acceptance and inner strength that many women may recognize themselves at different stages in life. Though this story covers only a short period of time in "Hannah's" history the author unfolds her inner being like a flower opening. A thinkers novel.
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Anna_Sophie More than 1 year ago
I did not care for this book. There are so many repetitive thoughts, actions, and even dialogue that it makes the plot trudge along painfully. the main character seems to have schizophrenia because her character traits are all over the place; one minute she's an innocent, the next she's as brutal as the people she proclaims to detest. If you have been brought up reading Mankell's Wallander, you will find making the transition to this book quite difficult.
JupFL_reader More than 1 year ago
This book is a great story and an amazing read for fans of Henning Mankell. It is bittersweet, disturbing and uplifting at various points. You have to be ready for an emotional ride.
SUEHAV More than 1 year ago
Not a fan of this book. Found myself skipping long paragraphs. The Africa "stuff" really gets bogged down.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tried reading free sample but too many pages missing. Will not buy it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was ok...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago