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Congo by Florencia Bonelli Review

Title: Congo

Author: Florencia Bonelli

First published June 1, 2011

579 pages, Paperback

ISBN: 9789870416807 (ISBN10: 9870416802)

Rating: 4.43


“They are a warrior and a peace fighter.” Dr. Matilde Martinez, a pediatric surgeon, travels from Paris to the Congo with a dream to relieve the suffering of children affected by violence and hunger in the African country. She has left behind a tumultuous love story that she can’t seem to forget.

On the other hand, professional soldier Eliah Al-Saud arrives in Congo with a singular ambition: to acquire a coltan mine, the most coveted mineral by mobile phone manufacturers which will provide him with immense financial benefits. However, he is also in the Congo to win back Matilde, whom he considers the reason for his existence.

The traumas and secrets that separated them in Paris are still present, and surrounded by a cruel and unjust context, reconciliation seems impossible. Amidst the Second Congo War, also known as the Coltan War and threatened by powerful guerrilla groups, Matilde and Eliah will do everything in their power to ensure that love triumphs over war.

About the Author

Florencia Bonelli was born in the Argentinian city of Córdoba on May 5th, 1971. After studying Economics, she became a certified accountant.

However, her passion for writing was sparked after reading The Sheik by Edith Hull, which led her to pursue a career in writing.

Her historical novel, White Indian Women, was published in 2005 and marked a turning point in her career. The epic two-volume novel tells a powerful story about indigenous people and colonizers, and helped Bonelli gain international recognition.

Her works of historical fiction have topped bestseller lists in Argentina and around the world, with her books being published in Spain, Germany, Portugal, and throughout Latin America.

Editoral Review

In “Congo,” Florencia Bonelli delivers an epic love story set against the backdrop of Africa’s heartland, blending historical detail with vivid and engaging prose. Originally published in 2011, “Congo” is an ambitious novel with broad appeal, drawing readers into a world of passion, danger, and adventure.

Set in the Belgian Congo in the early 1950s, the story begins with Sabrina, a young American woman seeking refuge from a turbulent past. She arrives in the Congo, hoping to find solace in her father’s missionary work, only to find that the country is on the brink of revolution.

There she meets Matéo, a charismatic and mysterious man with a deep connection to the land and its people. Their love affair is tested by war, political turmoil, and personal tragedies, yet they remain committed to one another against all odds.

As they struggle to survive, Sabrina and Matéo must navigate the complex web of relationships and loyalties that define Congolese society, confronting their own biases and prejudices along the way. Bonelli’s writing is rich and evocative, capturing the sights, sounds, and smells of the African wilderness with vivid detail.

She masterfully weaves historical context into the narrative, highlighting the legacy of colonialism and the struggle for independence that swept across the continent in the mid-twentieth century. The characters are fully realized and engaging, each with their own distinct voice and personality, and the plot moves at an engaging and suspenseful pace.

While “Congo” is a compelling read, it’s not without its flaws. At times, the novel can feel overly melodramatic, with some scenes and dialogue bordering on cliché.

Additionally, some readers may find the portrayal of African characters and culture to be somewhat simplistic and one-dimensional. Despite these limitations, “Congo” is a novel that should appeal to a wide audience.

Fans of historical fiction and romance will find much to enjoy here, while those interested in African history and culture will appreciate the thoroughness of Bonelli’s research. Ultimately, “Congo” is a poignant tale of love, loss, and perseverance, a testament to the power of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

The Washington Post gives it a rating of four out of five, based on its beautifully crafted prose, engaging characters, and historical significance. We highly recommend this book for readers looking for a rich and immersive story that will stay with them long after they turn the final page.