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The Cloths of Heaven by Sue Eckstein

The Cloths of Heaven

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Steamy climate and steamy sex in this debut novel set in 1990’s West Africa. The cast of old Empire left-overs, native Africans and people newly drawn to the vibrancy of Africa jostle and compete in this tightly plotted novel that veers between comedy and tragedy.

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Black Mischief, Evelyn Waugh
The Heart of the Matter, Graham Greene

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The Cloths of Heaven by Sue Eckstein

AS HEARD ON BBC RADIO 4 WOMAN'S HOUR In this assured debut about loneliness and passion in Africa, Sue Eckstein enthrals with a deliciously intricate plot, compelling characters and razor-sharp dialogue. West Africa in the early 1990s. Isabel Redmond is tiring of her iconoclastic husband's penchant for pendulous black breasts; the High Commissioner and his wife Fenella are both enjoying illicit affairs; an old English judge is wandering through the scrub following a tribe of Fulani herdsmen; Bob Newpin is about to make a killing in timeshares; and just what Father Seamus is up to is anyone's guess. Enter new diplomat Daniel Maddison on his first posting abroad. Rebelling against the endless rounds of cocktail parties, golf and gossip, he finds himself drawn to people and places that lie way beyond the experience of his High Commission colleagues - and specifically to the dusty warehouse in the heart of the city where a thin white woman is silently measuring out lengths of brightly coloured cloth.


'A gripping new novel about ex-pat life in West Africa. A real treat.' - BRIGID KEENAN, author of Diplomatic Baggage: The Adventures of a Trailing Spouse

'Graham Greenish with a bit of Alexander McCall Smith thrown in. Very readable, very humorous - a charming first novel.' - HEPHZIBAH ANDERSON ON 'UP ALL NIGHT'

'One of those brilliant books that offers an easy, entertaining read in the first instance, only to worm its way deeper into your mind. A modern Graham Greene - fabulous...fictional gold.' - THE ARGUS

'A fascinating novel - rich in dialogue with finely and sensitively drawn characters. If you like Armistead Maupin, Graham Greene or Barbara Trapido, you'll love this.'

'Populated by a cast of miscreants and misfits this debut novel by playwright Eckstein is a darkly comic delight.' - CHOICE MAGAZINE

'Evocative, intriguing and with splashes of a modern Evelyn Waugh.' - CAROLINE SMAILES

'A fantastically well-executed novel...the book is a joy to read. It is intriguing, exciting and just beautifully written.' - BOOKERSATZ

'A delightful book, likely you'll read it at one sitting it's quite difficult to put down once you're pulled in.' - THOUGHTS FROM BOTSWANA

'I couldn't put this novel down...Eckstein's book will contribute to an important body of fiction written about the continuing relationship between African and European countries. Her background with VSO and now her work in medical ethics ensures that her perspective is informed, intelligent and demanding. This incisive intellect also delivers some fascinating, complex characters who won't necessarily behave the way you expect.'- JACKIE WILLS

'The Cloths of Heaven is a treasure. The scented evenings, heavily weighted with West African heat, seemed to rise from the pages as I read. The characters are unexpectedly real. At times I felt an inkling of what it must feel like to be a stalker; that urge to vicariously experience more of another's life, the reluctance to be parted from them. I felt a slight sense of grief as the novel ended simply because it finished so perfectly and, I wanted to spend more time in their world.'- CHEZ ASPIE

'Marvellous on several good a page-turner as a thriller, with the lingering and satisfying afterglow of the best literary novels. When you've bought one copy and read it, you will probably find yourself buying more as gifts for friends.' - BRITAIN-NIGERIA EDUCATIONAL TRUST

'A wonderful story...The picture of the diplomatic life is spot-on...The setting is a fictional part of West Africa but it's so well realised that you feel as though you've been there. It's a multi-stranded story with all the different threads skilfully woven together. I would happily have read a great deal more. Splendid stuff.' - THE BOOKBAG

About the Author

Sue Eckstein

Author Sue Eckstein worked for VSO for many years in London, Bhutan and the Gambia. Now a lecturer at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, she is also working on a PhD in autobiographical fiction at the University of Sussex. Her plays include The Tuesday Group, first performed in London in 2003, as well as Kaffir Lilies, Laura and Old School Ties all for BBC Radio 4. This is her first novel.

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Book Info

Publication date

4th February 2009


Sue Eckstein

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Myriad Editions is an imprint of Myriad

logo Myriad Editions is an independent publisher of original literary fiction and graphic novels, and producer of the acclaimed 'state of the world' infographic atlases. After over a decade as a successful packager of the atlas series, we established our own imprint in order to showcase new writers and artists, build fresh audiences for their work, and establish a literary niche against the mainstream.

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