‘…a robin sang, three shrill arpeggios from his perch on a branch in the apple tree…’
Gabriel and Shylah are lifelong friends. Â As women, they could not be more different; Gabriel is tall and strong, startlingly intelligent and her high-powered career takes her all over the world. Â Single parent, Shylah, is gentle and practical, content to live with her son in a small Yorkshire town and run the deli’ she andÂ Gabriel established after years of dreaming and planning.
When Gabriel’s work takes her to Saudi Arabia, she isÂ challenged as never before. Â Discrimination, misogyny and a horrific miscarriage of justice bring her almost to breaking point, and eventually she flees home. Â With the support of their old convent school teacher, Sister Anthony, and her colleague, Michael, the man known as ‘Africa’s Prince of Light’, Gabriel and Shylah challenge religious extremism head on, and with almost unbelievable results.
The same might be said of Clara Challoner Walker. Â A Tapestry of Vice and Virtue is her debut novel, written with skill, assurance and – given the issues she tackles – more than a little courage.
Religion, politics and cultural ideology are themes central to the book but the author’s ability to wrap them up in a thrilling story, full of humour, imagination and sharp insights lies at the root of its success. Â The novel is notÂ worthy but (thought) provoking; not heavy-going but infinitely readable. Â Gabriel is a heroine in a class of her own.
A Tapestry of Vice and Virtue qualifies for Lothian Life by the skin of its teeth. Â Challoner Walker has a flat in Leith and currently works between Edinburgh, Yorkshire and France. She draws on her own experiences in the Middle East, Far East and Africa and the authenticity shows.
This is a hugely topical novel, one that will cause you to question your own beliefs, and one that will stay with you long after the the robin’s shrill arpeggios herald the Epilogue.
Published by Ings Press. Â Price Â£7.99Â
Available from www.amazon.co.ukÂ
See also www.clarachallonerwalker.com