Okay, it’s true that Angel Tungaraza, the main character in Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin (McClelland & Stewart) reminds me of Precious Ramotswe of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, but that doesn’t mean Angel doesn’t have anything to add to the story. She’s a middle-aged Tanzanian woman who lives in Rwanda, where she runs her own cake-baking business and, with her husband, raises their five grandchildren.
Her everyday life includes the aftermath of genocide, fallout from the AIDs epidemic and a country filled with poverty. Angel is not overtly political or rebellious or even angry, but her unspoken philosophy seems to be that the personal is political, and in her interactions with her clients, her friends and her family she is sometimes able to initiate small changes that make a difference.
This book is filled with humour, sadness, custom-made cakes covered in brightly coloured icing and—surprise surprise—a Canadian character who’s not at all nice.