The Lioness by Chris Bohjalian

June 1, 2022 (by Leah)


Don’t let the cover fool you (looks very dark and dreary!) - this is the perfect summer read for anyone craving a bit of suspense, a bit of glamour and a bit of family dysfunction. I couldn’t put it down! The Lioness switches settings between Hollywood in the 1960s and an African Safari that goes terribly wrong.  We get glimpses of how both places are in transition - racism in Hollywood and the uprisings and violence in East Africa.  It also puts us in the heads of a diverse group of characters as they all take turns telling the story and experiencing flashbacks.

When Hollywood’s darling, Katie Barstow takes her family and close friends on a Safari for her Honeymoon, nobody expects the trip to take a dangerous turn. Russian mercenaries show up and suddenly the group is separated and everyone is in the dark as to what is happening, who is behind it and why.  What I especially loved was the surprising way everyone reacts under duress… who has survival instincts, who puts others first, who shrinks in cowardice, who takes control.  A fascinating study of character will leave you wondering which creatures pose the greater threat - those with 4 legs or those with 2?

Best enjoyed while taking a hot bath or a cool dip in the pool. If you are a fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid, give this one a try… I found it had a similar feel to Malibu Rising and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.