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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Diamond Lady

Mwangi Ruheni

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Title: The Diamond Lady
Author: Mwangi Ruheni
Genre: Novel
Written: 2005
Length: 75 pages
Availability: The Diamond Lady does not appear to be available in the US or UK

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Our Assessment:

B- : too simple and underdeveloped

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       The Diamond Lady begins with the tone and approach found throughout the book -- just a bit off, but well-meaning and enthusiastic:

     Stella Njeri knew how to cheer up all day. She was born happy, one could say. But on this particular day, she felt like being a rebel, a rubble-rousing rebel -- just for the heck of it.
       Yes, Stella does a bit of 'rubble-rousing', but she's a fairly good girl, a Geography teacher who doesn't go in for too much carousing. The book begins with Apprentice District Officer Robert Ndaka catching sight of her -- and becoming totally smitten. He's engaged to Ida, but that's hardly an issue; she's easily dismissed (or rather simply ignored) while Robert pursues his new love -- though Ida does eventually exact her revenge.
       There's a semi-melodramatic plot, as the local parish priest -- an Italian -- also lusts after Stella, and when he has his way with her puts her in a delicate position (as well as into the arms of Robert). There's a baby, but it clearly isn't Robert's -- and Robert can barely handle it, leading -- after considerable delay -- to drastic action (and bringing Ida back into the picture). There's a horrendous crime, and Inspector Rufus investigates, quickly figuring out what happened. Robert is sentenced to death for his part, but his powerful father and others want to be sure he avoids the ultimate punishment. Eventually, the lovers are even happily reunited .....
       It makes for an odd mix of the spirited and the lackadaisical. Ruheni gets off to a decent start with many of his ideas, but there's too little follow-through. He doesn't pay enough attention to his characters once they're not at the centre of the action, and then when they pop up again it's almost like they're coming out of nowhere.
       Still, there's some appealing local colour -- as when Ruheni describes the dreams of government official Robert and nurse Ida early on:
They both professed being particularly fond of bovines, especially of the female kind. Any time they saw a good dairy herd, they just envied the owner of the cows, and they swore to have a better herd of their own, one day. Such were their dreams.
       Yet Ruheni offers little consistency: there's decent background and description of the characters, but after that it is largely the actions that determines them, Ruheni adapting the characters to his somewhat sensational plot and all of its turns. Without adequately considering what motivates his characters (beyond in the simplest terms), and what they feel, it all feels, like the book itself, very thin.
       A slight curiosity, interesting primarily as an example of East African 'popular' fiction.

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Other books by Mwangi Ruheni under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Popular Kenyan author Mwangi Ruheni (Nicholas Muraguri) was born in 1934.

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© 2007-2021 the complete review

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