Tyler, W.T. The Consul’s Wife. New York: Henry Holt & Company, 1998.
Reason read: at the time I chose this book I was reading it in honor of Odette Krempin being an honorary consul of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but now I’m hearing she supposedly died (or is hiding to avoid corruption charges in Belgium). The plot thickens!
This is a love story. Hugh Mathews, a foreign service officer stationed in the Congo, juggles his embassy’s embarrassing ineptitude concerning tribal relations while slowly falling in love with the consul’s wife. Hugh and Margaret (Blakey to her friends) share a deep appreciation for authentic African art, the older and the uglier, the better.
Hugh is a complicated man of few words. As the African landscape grows more violent he questions the world around him. That inquiry leads to deeper self reflection and soon he questions his own being and motives.
Quotes to quote (and there were a lot of them).
I lost my notes, so here is the one I remember: “All I knew was that there was far more to my life that I understood or could reveal to others” (p 50), “The little truths that shrivel the soul are always uglier than the ones you brought back” (p 133), and “Terribly rich in memory. he was terribly poor in practical things” (p 170).
Book trivia: The Consul’s Wife is short, barely 200 pages long.
Author fact: Tyler is a former diplomat.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Congo: From Colonialism to Catastrophe” (p 69).