Nov 11, 2010

Twilight in the Morning by Theresa Lungu - A Review

December 2003, Romance
iUniverse, $12.95, 154 pages, ISBN 978-0595301911
Available on and

Theresa Lungu’s debut novel tells a beautiful story. It is deftly written and brings emotion, hope and man’s ability to persevere against all odds to the forefront. The characters are endearing, and the reader cannot help but feel connected through their journey.

Saara Rushimana is a young Rwandese nurse working in a refugee camp. Her family was brutally murdered by Hutu militia men. It is through her work and her faith that she is able to cope with the horror unfolding around her.

Denver Milestone, an American paediatrician, travels to Rwanda to work for the UN at the refugee camp at the urging on one of his colleagues. He is at a turning point in his life, and feels the need to do something more fulfilling with his life, and this mission to Rwanda fits the bill.

Saara is drawn by Denver’s easygoing manner, and the compassion and strength with which he works.  She is very eager to ask him about his life in America but her shyness and the cultural barriers that limit their personal interactions act as a hindrance. In Saara, Denver finds a friend; one with whom he can share his thoughts and feelings honestly. She helps him navigate through life in the camp. As their friendship grows they both silently acknowledge the attraction they feel for one another.

Denver is well liked in the camp, and one of the more touching aspects of the book is the friendship he strikes up with an impressionable ten year old, Pierre. Pierre idolises Denver and dogs his every step. We see Denver taking on the role of friend and mentor to the young boy. I always love seeing black men portrayed as positive role models. 

The turning point in Denver and Saara’s relationship is when a few months from the completion of his contract, Denver understands the full implications of what his return home would mean if he doesn’t have Saara with him. He asks her to be his wife, and we are privy to the wonderful wedding customs they go through. Despite the fragility of life in a refugee camp we see a group pf people united in the endeavour to see the couple properly wed as dictated by local customs.

Not long after their marriage, Denver is critically injured in an ambush. He’s airlifted to South Africa for medical treatment; Saara finds herself alone again. When she later finds out that she is pregnant, Saara makes the difficult decision to leave Rwanda. She wants a better life for her child than an existence in a war-torn countryside, and the chance for him/her to know Denver’s family.

What follows shows the remarkable resilience of the human spirit. We see the growing love Saara has for her unborn child, and how she learns to cope with her new life in a foreign land. It's a remarkable journey. 

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read, and I would recommend it. I look forward to reading more from Ms Lungu. 


Hi Miss Bwalya

I am really glad to link up with you. Yeah, Theresa is my good friend. I am working on a novel to be entitled White Shadows. I have written several short stories which have appeared on reputable online literary sites. You can google Maria's Vision ( Africa Writing Online ) The Hate That Hate Produced (Africa An African attends St George's Day ( Maple Tree literary supplement and Anna's Song ( Black Magazine. You will discover that all these stories have characters from different countries other than Zambia. Maria's Vision is a quest of an abused Zimbabwean woman who finally leaves her husband. The Hate That Hate Produced is written in an epistolary form. It is about a Hutu asylum seeker telling his side of the story. An Africa Attends St George's Day is a story about a Zimbabwean couple who can't live together in their new environment-Britain because of radically different values in their new society. Anna's Song is also written in an epistolary form. It is a letter written by an aging Kenyan prostitute writing to her deported friend not to come back to Europe which she describes as a hard place. Google these stories and make your own comments. I have had only one short story with Zambian characters published on my friend's blog. It is called Aunt Agatha's Quest. It is about a semi-literate Zambian housewife-Agatha living in Britain with her Doctor husband. Agatha tries hard to elevate her social status by imitating the English. However, the truth outs when she falls sick and cries in chi-Bemba, her mother language. Please get in touch.

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