Inspired by her own upbringing in a gold mining camp in Africa, ‘The Diamond Hunter’ by Fiona McIntosh is a captivating and meticulously researched tale that definitely belongs in your beach bag this summer.
Set in the 1870s, a time when the diamond rush in Africa was in full swing, six year old Clementine Knight is left to be raised by her diamond-crazed alcoholic father, following the earlier death of her mother. Spending long days and nights set on finding ‘the one’, her father, James, leaves Clementine in the care of their Zulu companion, Joseph One-Shoe and together, they form an everlasting bond that no-one or nothing can break.
The discovery of a diamond the size of a fist (imagine!) changes everything and as James makes plans to return to England to raise his daughter properly, the story takes a rather dark turn, which sees Clementine back in England, alone, with the memories of her time in Africa nothing but a foggy recollection. Years later, under the care of her seemingly wealthy Uncle Reggie, Clementine is determined to discover the truth of what happened to both her father and the diamond, and embarks on a quest that leads her down a path of betrayal and lies.
‘The Diamond Hunter’ is one of those books you can’t put down until you get to the end of the chapter. It’s not the most challenging read, however, it is beautifully written, with enough detail to evoke a realistic portrayal of the characters and places mentioned in the story. Reading this tale of adventure also gives you a true insight into the hardships of the diamond trade in Africa and the physical and emotional price the diggers paid for a taste of money. Makes walking into Tiffany’s and just handing over money for a cut and polished gem seem pretty lame in comparison.