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This novel is a short one, and is the tale of a couple whose lives are at the cusp of change. Thomas Brossard is a former government minister who is out of work due to a change in government. His wife Louise, always the driving force in his life, has suggested he go to Africa with a Catholic charity. Africa has always been her interest, but she feels he needs something to occupy him now. Besides, she is agoraphobic. The story goes back and forth between Louise (Montreal) and Thomas (Burundi), with forays into the past exploring their relationship from its beginnings to its uncomfortable present. When Thomas goes missing in Africa, Louise must struggle to come to terms with the problems they'd been having while she waits for news. This a very adult book in its quiet and understated narrative style. There are shades of grey in every situation, both in Montreal and in Burundi. It brought up issues of Western 'assistance' to African nations, and of the treatment Thomas receives first as a politician then as a private citizen. As for the title, Burundi is the original home of what is now known as the African violet -- Louise is a collector of violets, and Thomas' movement toward reconciliation uses both of these facts. It was a nuanced tale I found especially interesting for its setting in Montreal, practically around the corner from my student digs in my years in the city.