Cold and poverty define
Hanna Renström’s childhood in remote northern Sweden, and in 1904, at nineteen,
she boards a ship for Australia in hope of a better life. But none of her
hopes, or fears, prepare her for the life she will lead.
After two brief marriages
both leave her widowed, she finds herself the owner of a bordello in Portuguese
East Africa, a world where colonialism and white colonists rule, where she is
isolated within white society by her profession and her gender, and, among the
bordello’s black prostitutes, by her color. As Hanna’s story unfurls over the
next several years in this “treacherous paradise,” she wrestles with a
devastating loneliness and with the racism she’s meant to unthinkingly adopt.
And as her life becomes increasingly intertwined with the prostitutes’, she
moves inexorably toward the moment when she will make a decision that defies
all the expectations society has of her and, more important, those she has of
herself. Download and start listening now!