Paradise and Pink Plastic Shoes

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Pub Date 28 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 20 Nov 2023

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Description

1972 Uganda. Freya, naïve and newly married, arrives from England, anxious to settle into expatriate life at an agricultural project with her husband, Roger. When the house servant, Keziah, becomes pregnant, Freya suspects Roger may be the father. Her struggle to come to terms with this, and the eventual birth of the baby, leads her into relationships with Satish, the Asian director of a charity where she takes a job, and with Wensley, a visiting West Indian cricketer.

Increasingly at odds with Roger and the narrow world of the expatriate community, Freya’s struggle is set against a backdrop of violence and political turmoil, which culminates in Idi Amin’s expulsion of the Asian community. The upheaval forces a life-change dilemma upon Freya. Her story explores a young woman’s coming of age intellectually, emotionally and sexually. It confronts what is it to be threatened with expulsion from home, and asks where people really belong.

1972 Uganda. Freya, naïve and newly married, arrives from England, anxious to settle into expatriate life at an agricultural project with her husband, Roger. When the house servant, Keziah, becomes...


A Note From the Publisher

Pat Holden lived and worked in the 1970s in Uganda, Malawi, Nigeria and Egypt. This was followed by a career as a social anthropologist working in international development in the UK, New York, Geneva and Barbados. She has trained as an actor and solo performer and written plays. This is her first novel.

Pat Holden lived and worked in the 1970s in Uganda, Malawi, Nigeria and Egypt. This was followed by a career as a social anthropologist working in international development in the UK, New York...


Available Editions

EDITION Ebook
ISBN 9781805146438
PRICE £3.99 (GBP)
PAGES 336

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Average rating from 3 members


Featured Reviews

Interesting novel about a young English woman who follows her husband to Uganda in 1972. Well written coming of age in a difficult time and place; you can feel the loneliness and claustrophobia of the protagonist while she searches for a sense of belonging.
I have to say I do not like the title of the book though!

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Fascinating story about life in Uganda in the time of Idid Amin (early 197os) for a very sheltered and naive new wife who has secrets of her own and is not quite up with the world that is changing rapidly around her. It's sort of a mishmash of a lot of different aspects of life, but it paints a picture for the reader and would be a good choice for a reader who wants an unusual locale and a look at a culture within a culture. There's a lot to unpack here, so it would also be a good choice for a book group.

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. It's an unusual read and I enjoyed it.

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Not many people under 50 today are likely to have even heard of Uganda’s Idi Amin, one of the 20th century’s most despotic rulers whose extreme cruelty included forcing prisoners to club each other to death, a barbarity recounted by a British expatriate in Pat Holden’s compelling fictional rendition of that time, “Paradise and Pink Plastic Shoes.”
“(Prisoners were made to) shatter the skull of the man in the front by hitting his head with a twenty-pound hammer,” the still-trembling Brit, Roger Templemead, tells his wife, Freya, after he’s released from Amin’s notorious Makindye Prison.
But as chilling a figure as Amin is presented as in the novel (and as fearful a figure as he indeed was in real life) and as growingly fearful as the expatriate community is of what might be expected from him, finally Holden’s novel isn’t so much about him as it about Freya, whose situation is fraught with anxiety, what with her having suffered a miscarriage before she ever arrives in Uganda, and, once there, with her being overwhelmed by a new land and a husband she’s still not completely comfortable with – he might even be a spy, she comes to find out – and with her feeling estranged from her fellow expatriates after deviating from the party line in her views. Most distressing of all, though, to her is the growing suspicion that Roger might have been intimate with their “house woman” and, worse yet, that the woman’s offspring might be his.
All very absorbing, certainly, though for all the sensitivity with which Freya’s situation is rendered, and it’s depicted so compassionately that it’s impossible not to feel for her, still her circumstances paled a bit for me before the horror of Amin’s regime, which I would have liked more of.
Nevertheless, Holden’s novel is an eminently readable rendition of a particularly scary time and reminiscent for me, with its descriptiveness about East Africa and possible spy element, of the exemplar of such fiction, Graham Greene.

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