Then a Wind Blew

Then a Wind BlewThen a Wind Blew is Kay Powell’s first novel. It is set in the final months of the war in Rhodesia, before it became Zimbabwe, and the story unfolds through the voices of three women. The women have nothing in common, but the events of war conspire to draw them into each other’s lives in a way that none of them could have imagined. The novel develops and intertwines their stories, showing us the ugliness of war for women caught up in it and reminding us that, in the end, we all depend on each other.

The characters and places in the novel are fictional, but the historical context is factually accurate. It draws on Kay’s experience of the war and on subsequent research. She wrote it partly because she’d always wanted to try her hand at writing fiction. She’s also long been interested in the subject of women in war – the burdens they bear, the wounds they carry – and chose the guerrilla war in Zimbabwe as her vehicle for the subject, because it was something she knew, first hand.

She also wrote it because she felt that she’d never really explained the guerrilla war to her daughters, who were born during it and grew up asking questions about it. Then a Wind Blew is an attempt to explain it to them, with all its nuances.

Published 3rd February 2021 by Weaver Press; print and eBook format (220pp); ISBN 978-1-77922-383-8

For a VIDEO of readings from the book, and an author interview, see:

For an ARTICLE on what led the author to write this novel, see:

Brian's testimonial

“Every word a woman writes changes the story of the world, revises the official version.” 

Available from your local bookshop and from

Available in Zimbabwe from

For book launch and beneficiaries, see ‘Book launch Then a Wind Blew’ on YouTube; and this Facebook feature:

What people are saying about Then a Wind Blew

“The  tragedy of the war for Zimbabwean independence seen from both sides – a great work.” SALLY ROSCHNIK (daughter of Guy Clutton-Brock, founder of the multiracial co-operative Cold Comfort Farm in what was Rhodesia, later imprisoned, then deported from the country in 1971)

“We who were close to it saw the Zimbabwean conflict as a man’s war. There is no such thing, and Kay Powell has channelled the voices to tell us so: women’s voices, with sad, brave, moving songs on their lips. How did we not hear them?” MATTHEW PARRIS (columnist for The Times, and radio and TV presenter)

“A fascinating, ambitious and brave novel that will leave a lasting impression on the reader.” BRIAN CHIKWAVA (winner of the 2004 Caine Prize, and author of the widely acclaimed Harare North, Jonathan Cape, 2009)

“Kay Powell’s novel about women who were trapped in the brutality of the war for Zimbabwean independence, and tormented by it, is both compelling and important; their voices are now alive in this extraordinary and moving book.”  PETA THORNYCROFT (South African-based correspondent for, inter aliaThe Daily Telegraph and Voice of America)

“This is a unique and important book about the Zimbabwean conflict which ended in 1979 – a searingly poignant reminder that women on all sides often bear the brunt of wars, waged mainly by men. It is also relevant to the ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe; a clarion call for women to act assertively to prevent the excesses of violent men.” SENATOR DAVID COLTART (co-founder of MDC, Zimbabwe’s opposition party; MDC MP 2000-2008; elected to the Senate in 2008)

Then a Wind Blew is an excellent read. Not an easy topic to write on, especially getting everything accurate and realistic, while still telling a gripping story, but Kay Powell succeeds admirably. I couldn’t put it down. Fiction is often a better vehicle than history books if it can get it right – this novel really does that.” MARY NDLOVU (human rights campaigner, teacher and historian; during the war, lived in exile in Zambia with her husband, a Zimbabwean nationalist)

“Kay Powell writes with the authority and love of one who knows the territory intimately. In Then a Wind Blew, her Africa comes to life on the page, its brilliant landscape darkened with the fear of war, the threat of violence, and the sadness of shattered hopes. A moving and illuminating novel. LEE LANGLEY (multi-award-winning novelist, regular book reviewer for The Spectator, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature)

“For anyone interested in Africa, and especially Zimbabwe, this is a book they should read. Personal, yet cleverly capturing the effect on all women of living in a war zone, it gives you a strong sense of being in Zimbabwe. And it will undoubtedly make you want to go there.”  BARONESS HOEY of Lylehill and Rathlin (Kate Hoey; former Chair of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe)

Then a Wind Blew is a beautiful and evocative book that traces the final, tragic year of the Zimbabwe independence war through the eyes of three women with very different perspectives and experiences of life and war in pre-independence Zimbabwe. Its genius is its very personal perspective and its refusal to take sides, letting the reader see the situation in the round and leaving them to come to their own judgements. If you want to understand the full tragedy of the bush war, the terrible toll it exacted on all involved and the enduring legacy it still imposes on this beautiful country and its wonderful people, please read this book. A beautifully written and haunting story that will stay with me for a long time to come.” BARON OATES of Denby Grange (Jonny Oates; current Co-Chair of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe)

 “A compelling read… The writing is well-judged and powerful [and] there is some wonderful imagery… This is a thought-provoking and memorable book which both shocked and educated me in relation to the history of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe.” @iheartbooks1991 (a leading UK book blogger, a participant in June 2021 Blog Tour arranged by @RandomTours) For full review, go to:

“What a beautiful and emotional story! Quite a short book, with just over 200 pages, but such an incredible story packed into it… A must for anyone looking for a story written with a lot of heart, a lot of knowledge.” @speckybooknerd (a leading UK book blogger, a participant in June 2021 Blog Tour arranged by @RandomTours) For full review, go to:

“…This is a beautifully written novel and despite the harrowing story that it tells, a very enjoyable read. The author grew up in what was then known as Rhodesia and it’s very clear that she has a deep rooted love for the country as this shines through in the wonderfully vivid descriptions of the landscape. … What sets this book apart from other war based novels is the fact that it focuses on the conflict from a predominantly female perspective. This was a first for me and until I read this book, was a point of view that I had given little or no consideration to, but one which needs to be talked about when you take into account all of the conflicts currently happening in various places around the world. …A truly haunting novel that will stay with me for many months to come.” NEATS (a leading UK book blogger; twitter @lilac­_hippo) For full review, go to:; also on

“…Kay Powell’s novel is an absorbing story, with many references to historical conflicts and atrocities … This exciting debut novel captures accurately the mood of anticipation from the black population and despondency from the white population in Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was born… …(and) can with pride take its place on the shelves of Zimbabwean literature…” PAT BRICKHILL (Zimbabwean author and activist) The full review will appear soon in The Zimbabwean

“Kay Powell wanted to explain the Rhodesian/Zimbabwean war to her daughters, so she wrote a powerful and thought-provoking novel based on the totally different lives of three women caught up in ‘the pity of war’. Through the voices of these women, the complexities of war – what they are fighting for, the influence of politics and propaganda – impact on their lives in ways that, unless experienced, are hard to fathom…. War is a universal theme, and many women – and men – will relate to the complexities of war and civilian life. Kay Powell balances the harshness of these women’s lives against her beautiful descriptions of the country, reminding one of the splendours of nature.” LESLEY CRIPPS THOMSON

“Kay Powell’s Then a Wind Blew is important. It seeks to show how war affects the lives of women in particular, and so in a sense it is a universal novel, addressing a universal theme which is too often ignored. The author sets her novel in the last years and months of Rhodesia before independence and the birth of Zimbabwe. The gradual and increasing interplay between the war and civilian life is charted – the distressing sense of displacement….  This is a writerly feat – balancing pacey story-telling with historical and social context and providing us with insights into the swirling politics around race and restitution; the savagery of a guerrilla war; the inevitability of it all.”  DUNCAN BAIRD (publisher)

“This is a very well-told story of the conflict in the dying days of Rhodesia. It is not seeking to judge who was right or wrong but, rather, focusses on the victims, in particular the three women protagonists. It invites our sympathy while avoiding mawkishness and makes for a rewarding read.” Anon https://www/

“Really enjoyed this book after being recommended to me by a friend. It’s a period of history that I know little about (had to Google a few things!) but it is very sensitively told with well-developed characters. Very thought-provoking in the current political climate, too.” The Murrays https://www/

“A deeply sad story told with consummate skill and order. The brutality of that bush war and its effect on both black and settler communities, so horribly vivid. Neither side is spared.The dialogue between these stressed people whips off the page. And I loved the flights of freedom and hope the birds of the region give us throughout the book.” ROBIN ELLIS (actor, best known for playing Ross Poldark in the BBC 1970s series of ‘Poldark’)

“Kay Powell does for Rhodesia/Zimbabwe what Paul Scott did for the British Raj… I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and the dive into the demise of white-ruled Rhodesia and the bloody birth of Zimbabwe.The events are set in the critical transitional period of the late 1970s and early 1980. The interwoven stories are told through the eyes of three women whose lives are all deeply marked by the ugly bush war. I was reminded of Paul Scott’s Jewel in the Crown. Like Scott, Kay Powell writes intertwined, deeply-human tales set against a background of historic changes. She has a good eye for the telling detail and a fine ear for dialogue. The characters are memorable, making for a gripping read. Kay Powell grew up in Rhodesia and has a firm grip on her material.” MEREDITH WHEELER (formerly a writer/ producer for ABC News, New York/London)

“I thought this was an excellent albeit distressing read. It is very well researched, honest and brave. Kay Powell writes like an artist who paints not because she wants to sell her paintings, but because it is an expression of truth.” JUDY CARTER (based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, involved in national and local charitable bodies)

“What a tale! I was transported to Rhodesia and met Susan Haig. There was so much poignancy in the telling of the story. It was a hard read, especially the description of the massacre. Kay Powell has pulled off a great, if at times, painful read. What a heroine in Nyanye I see a film!” LIBBY FAWBERT (formerly a reporter for BBC Radio 4 programmes ‘The World at One’ and ‘PM’)

“Not for the faint-hearted, this is a compelling read. It reeks with authenticity; the author captures the complexity of the political situation in Rhodesia at the end of the seventies and weaves it into a gripping story.” Anon https://www/

“This is an essential book to understand today’s Zimbabwe.” CHRISTABEL KING (formerly a current/foreign affairs journalist with BBC and ITV)

“Motherhood, sisterhood, faith in God and in yourself, and the fight to take back what is yours form a memorable narrative, rich in beautiful descriptions of the natural environment, depicted in lyrical and raw writing that flows without being shocking just for the sake of exposition.”  AMALIA GKAVEA (‘The Opinionated Reader‘)

“Africa sun to dusty sleep. Awake the dogs of war. There is always something new out of Africa. And Kay Powell’s book Then a Wind Blew is a poignant addition. This white Africa-born writer knows the heartache of women who are left behind at home when men go off to war. This time it is the transition era as Rhodesia becomes Zimbabwe. A story of three women. That of Susan Haig, the mine manager’s wife, is the most tragically drawn.” PAUL TINGAY (author)

“This was most certainly an eye-opener of a book for me, also heartbreaking in so many ways. Very well written and so very hard to put down once you have started. But it very much exposed to me how little I know of life in this country at the time, something I should really rectify.” FIONA SHARP (Twitter book blogger/reviewer)

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