The Chameleon’s Tale – Andrea Bramhall

The Chameleon's Tale - Andrea BramhallAndrea Bramhall is an unusual Lesfic writer, relatively new on the scene – five books in three years – with a great writing style, and unusual writing method, novels which almost defy categorization and a definite penchant for keeping her readers on their toes.

Swordfish was a fairly trad Lesfic action/romance and its sequel Ladyfish is another mad romp action/adventure.  Clean Slate was an unusual book that’s hard to categorise, a romance, drama and exploration of the affects of amnesia on an established couple.

The Chameleon’s Tale sits with Nightingale as a complex romance wrapped in and based around extremely difficult and painful political realities. In Nightingale we watched our main character, a British Asian lesbian with the world at her feet, choose an arranged marriage to save the family honour and then be abducted and imprisoned in a compound in Pakistan.

In the latest offering, The Chameleon’s Tale, we are firmly planted in South Africa, starting during apartheid when being liberal was a dangerous personal statement, and jumping forward to the present day, when the anger and pain of that era is still deeply engrained in all those affected. It combines romance, as do all Bramhall’s books, with a personal intrigue and a political thriller – in this case a page-turner dealing with corporate greed and social abuse.

The main Andrea Bramhall biogcharacters are interesting and varied, damaged goods like most of us, they aren’t easy, they aren’t always likeable, but they do feel real.

The plot is complex, combining personal tales of abandonment and hurt with the political conspiracy. It is fast moving and pacey – almost too much to fit into 264 pages. The mechanisms used to create the drama definitely require the suspension of disbelief, but once past them it is an intriguing exploration of how two women, faced with extremely different forms of hardship, have grown up and challenged the world. Beyond all the twists and turns I was left with deeply mixed feelings about the women they had become.

For me it was an uncomfortable read if I am honest. Partly, I suspect, because my feelings about apartheid haven’t really moved on from standing outside South Africa House singing “24 years in captivity…” and for me Imogen was hard to divorce from her background.

But as always Andrea’s booked are well written, her words flow off the page with elegance and precision, making it a pleasure to read. She challenges us to take a look at difficult social situations through the mechanism of romance and personal experiences. While her main characters are lesbians and that adds a layer of difficulty to their lives, it isn’t at the centre of the story. They are lesbians, they fall in love, but their lives are so much more complex than just their sexuality. And for me any Lesfic author who challenges us to think, who pushes us beyond the generic romance, is somebody who is improving the standard of the genre, broadening it and deepening it as it matures. Well done Ms Bramhall, another challenging read.

Oh.. and STUNNING jacket by the way…

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

      • Paperback: 246 pages
      • First published 2015
      • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (August, 2015)
      • ASIN: B012AZRC1M
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