Book Review: The Cloths of Heaven, By Sue Eckstein


Eckstein’s West-African tale of expats behaving badly has the feel not just of another place but of another era (and not just because it’s set in 1989).

They are almost a “Happy Valley” set, seemingly unaware of the politics of their presence: the unpleasant but faintly cartoonish character on the make; the aged Englishman painting local girls in the nude; the aloof young woman seemingly trapped in an abusive relationship yet secretly searching for a disappeared grandfather. The undercurrent of the “love that dare not speak its name” flows through this tale, giving it a special urgency, as two men from different generations, the younger Daniel and the older Stan, struggle with their desires.