“It is Lisbon in the year 1905 and our hero, Luis Bernardo Valenca, a 37-year-old bachelor and owner of a small shipping business, is revelling in the luxury of Lisbon's high society. Intellectually curious, he writes about politics in his spare time, believing that Portugal's vast empire is having a civilising effect on the far-off lands it has colonised.
But his life is turned upside down when King Dom Carlos asks him to become governor of Portugal's smallest colony, the tiny island of Sao Tome e Principe, stuck out in the Atlantic off the coast of equatorial West Africa, whose economy rests almost entirely on its cocoa plantations.
However, the English believe that slavery still exists illegally in Sao Tome and intend to send a diplomatic envoy to check it out. (Of course the English, with their rival cocoa plantations in Africa, have their own reasons for trying to prevent the export of cocoa from Sao Tome).As a gentleman used to a softer urban life, Luis Bernardo is ill-prepared for the challenges of plantation life, and he is shocked by the conditions under which the Angolan workers labour - although he is more than willing to engage romantically with the wife of the English consul, one of several candidates for his attentions.
"Equator "is a compelling and constantly surprising novel, casting light on a little-known corner of colonial life. Epic in scope, laced with emotional and moral complexity, "Equator" brings this simmering tropical community to life through the entanglements and betrayals of its cast of unforgettable characters. A best-seller in Portugal, and sold in many languages, "Equator" will also amaze and delights its English readers.”
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