Then 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: https://youtu.be/WclsQb6Ej8U
For an ARTICLE on what led the author to write this novel, see: https://booksbywomen.org/then-a-wind-blew/
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; pers. comm.)
“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 (award-winning novelist, regular book reviewer for The Spectator, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature)
“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) https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56664755-then-a-wind-blew
“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) https://www.amazon.co.uk
“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/amazon.co.uk
“This is an essential book to understand today’s Zimbabwe.” Christabel King (formerly a current/foreign affairs journalist with BBC and ITV) https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56664755-then-a-wind-blew
“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 https://theopinionatedreaderblog.wordpress.com/
“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’)
“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) https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56664755-then-a-wind-blew
“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) https://www.waterstones.com/books/reviews/isbn/9781779223838#review-187715
“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.” https://www.africatalked.co.za/novels-fiction/