Home is Where My Earrings Are
by Dannie Russell (Eth II 1963-65)
Peppertree Press, 2012
Reviewed by Gloria Curtis (Asmara 63–65)
FOR ALL THE ADVENTUROUS TRAVELERS out there, and the wanna-bes, including those seeking to live and work in a foreign culture — please read this wonderful paperback book. Follow the author from her early Peace Corps assignment as a young wife and teacher in Ethiopia, to her many “assignments” in foreign countries as her spouse, Daryle Russell, develops a very successful career in the International School system. Peace Corps Volunteers have many descriptions of culture shock, but Dannie’s reaction to arriving in Addis Ababa is a gut-wrenching story.
With a strong feminine perspective on life, Dannie appreciates and learns from all her travel, and working experiences, realizing how fortunate she is. Enjoy this book slowly so you can absorb all the little funny and sad and lonely and “Oh, My God” moments.
The Tenth Saint
by D. J. Niko
Medallion Press, 2012
Reviewed by Janet Lee (Emdeber 74–76)
SARAH WESTON, A CAMBRIDGE ARCHAEOLOGIST and female “Indiana Jones,” is assigned to lead an expedition to unearth a royal necropolis outside of Aksum, Ethiopia, in the empire that the author describes as the most powerful kingdom in East Africa and Arabia centuries ago: “The fabled ancestral land of the Queen of Sheba. The home of kings and powerful warriors and untold wealth, all buried in great labyrinths beneath the broken stelae standing like silent eternal soldiers on the foothills of Mount Saint George.”
Routine excavation soon leads to intrigue when Sarah is approached at a local eatery by an Ethiopian who shares with her some broken pieces of pottery and promises of greater treasures. Captivated, though suspicious, she meets with him the next day and is lead to an obscure tomb and burial place of Gabriel, “The Tenth Saint” of Coptic Ethiopian tradition. Always falling under the shadows of her famous archaeologist father, she is determined to pursue this lead on her own and initially thwarts the guidance and advances of American scholar Daniel Madigan, a legend in his own right, but someone who also plays well to a camera.
Together Sarah and Daniel track down clues to the mysterious Gabriel and find themselves in enough close calls to put Indiana Jones to shame. The quest leads them to Addis Ababa, the monasteries and churches of Lalibela, and the wilderness of the Simien Mountains. The plot involves time travel and prophesies of the demise of the world through an environmental catastrophe, which appear will be foiled due to the intervention of this intrepid team.
The author, D. J. Niko, thoroughly researched the history and geography of Ethiopia, providing sufficient authenticity to the story line and plot to satisfy even the most skeptical Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. Her descriptions of the people and countryside sufficiently matched many of my recollections of the areas around Aksum and Lalibella as to not distract from the storyline. It is a work of fiction, after all. She briefly describes the food, the children, and the great churches and monasteries. But obviously the author was as taken with Ethiopia as many of us were. At the conclusion of the novel, Sarah returns the sacred texts to one of the monasteries perched high upon the mountain. “At the cliff’s edge, Sarah surveyed the craggy highlands of Ethiopia, a place she could neither forgive nor forget. Somewhere in those hostile hills lay the tomb of the tenth saint with all its secrets and unrequited hopes.”
This is the first of a series of Sarah Weston Chronicles. The second, The Riddle of Solomon, is set in Saudi Arabia and was just recently published.