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Reviewed by Deborah Adams for Readers' Favorite
Scandal! Seduction! Corruption! All of this amidst the tropical beauty and abject poverty of the island nation of Barbados. Cordelia Davis leaves her job and her home in Barbados to go to Miami to meet and interview the author of the whistleblowing novel that put her on the literary map. In her novel The Girl with the Hazel Eyes, Callie Browning tells the story of Cordelia (Lia) and the author, Susan Taylor, who wrote the novel. Susan reaches out to Lia to write her biography. Lia is sure that the story she will get from Susan is her ticket to success as a writer herself.
As we learn not only of Susan’s past but of the story of the Barbados independence movement, we become acquainted with the island itself. Callie Browning’s use of imagery paints a vivid vision of the sights: sunrises, sunsets, the tiny village and home, the cane fields, the scents of the vines and the bushes, the sweet scent of the rain and the blooms and foliage, the stench of rot and decay. Browning is especially talented when writing of the sounds of the islands, the birds, the music and the wind whispering through the cane. We taste the food Susan tasted, feel her terror as the island is hit by a hurricane, her fear as she is nearly assaulted and her grief at the loss of someone dear. The Girl with the Hazel Eyes also tells a story of the men and women who worked to make Barbados a sovereign country and the greed and corruption which brought the nation’s first government down. Despite a slow beginning, I was drawn into the story of a compelling woman and of a world about which I knew absolutely nothing.