Read Rosaliene Bacchus’ second novel The Twisted Circle when you have a completely free weekend, because you may not be able to put it down. Set in a tropical Guyana, South America, the story based on the country’s history follows a Catholic nun about to take her vows who teaches in a rural school. The students are Amerindian, Black, and East Indian as well as combinations of all three. Beyond the growing pain problems of the students, much deeper troubling currents lie in the inappropriate actions of the Catholic priests.
The location of the convent and school in the jungle are well described. Rivers have central importance in Guyana. They not only give water for daily life, they are also the transportation highways for students to reach school. My favorite quote about protagonist describing the river is:
Consult the map below to see one of the settings for the narrative; the town of Mabaruma in the northwest near Venezuela where the nuns teach school.
The hero and the antihero nuns alternate telling the story, which effectively shows the characters and their motives. Bacchus shows us the spiteful diary entries of the villain and we see how she misunderstands the protagonist’s actions through the lens of her own jealousy and selfish motives. Yet, we are also led to compassion for her suffering the loss of her dear mother and brother.
The controlling government and church that dictate people’s lives are parallels to life in the convent. The book’s topics reinforce each other in a very pleasing and fulfilling way. The well-developed themes of obedience, abuse of power, service to others, education, Catholic Church, government, nation building, and education leave us knowing more about this small country. The subject of Georgetown is also covered, from the local perspective on the tragedy there. Throughout Bacchus’ novel, we feel connected to people’s daily lives in Guyana 40 years ago because of the skill and personal experience of the author.
Travel to South America reading The Twisted Circle: A Novel.*
To buy your copy, click here.
*Trigger warning: discussions of physical abuse and assault.