Francis King

Snubs & Slights

Black Orchids


Virago 384pp £17.99 order from our bookshop

After having established herself with some clever and well-constructed thrillers and crime novels, Gillian Slovo moved into the mainstream, eventually to be shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Ice Road, a novel of such grandeur and accomplishment that I had the highest expectations for its successor. Unfortunately Black Orchids only partially fulfils them. Its first section, set in Ceylon on the verge of independence in 1946, is so brilliant an evocation of both the appearance and the mood of the country that it at once convinced me that Slovo had surpassed herself. Its later sections forced me, sadly, to revise this view. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter