Being a lover of coffee, I was anxious to read this book after reading a positive review. After about 30 pages, I found it not to be what I expected and put it aside. The cover continued to haunt me, however, and a few weeks later I gave it a second chance. It is a slow-starting novel and a bit dry at the beginning.
The story focuses on the character of Robert Wallis, an aspiring poet living in London in the 1800’s He needs to find a more lucrative means of support after his father cuts off his allowance. His talent for description lands him a job creating a guide for the coffee trade by a Mr. Pinker who owns a coffee company. His money woes continue and he resorts to shady money lenders. He falls for his employer’s daughter, Emily, who at first rejects his advances. When Mr. Pinker learns of his interest, he sends Robert to Africa to cultivate a superior coffee for his company. He promises to bless the marriage upon Robert’s return.
The story doesn’t really begin until Robert arrives in Africa. While there, he encounters romance, prejudice and politics. Meanwhile, back in London, Emily gets caught up in the suffrage movement and becomes quite passionate about the cause.
When he returns to London five years later, , Robert finds that both the times and he himself as a person have changed. The end result is a very sensuous historical novel that is very descriptive and has the reader yearning for a hot cup of the dark brew.