©2001 Alexandra Fuller; (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC
"A classic is born in this tender, intensely moving and even delightful journey through a white African girl's childhood." (Publishers Weekly)
"This was no ordinary childhood, and it makes a riveting story thanks to an extraordinary telling." (School Library Journal)
"In this powerful debut, Fuller fully succeeds in memorializing the beauty of each desert puddle and each African summer night sky while also recognizing that beauty can lie hidden in the faces of those who have crossed her path. Highly recommended." (Library Journal)
"An honest, moving portrait of one family struggling to survive tumultuous times." (Booklist)
I couldn't put this book down, and now finding it on tape is a delight. The narration is engaging and entertaining. The author writes in an almost muscical style, it's like listening to narrative poetry in parts. The richness of the language and detail is truly luscious. I am usually struck by how "thin" many modern novels read, like eating the most basic and bland meal, with no spice or flavor. This novel is like a feast, rich and robust, filled with a symphony of tastes, smells, sights, and sounds.
This is a wonderful, "coming-of-age" story, a nonfiction story, that is destined to become a classic. Perhaps not a major classic (e.g., Jane Austin or James Joyce or F Scott Fitzgerald) but certainly a minor classic (JD Salinger, etc.). The story is episodic, sounds very true, characters painted well above the usual caricature level in the usual lower quality works. The verbal narration is really good too ... so good in fact that the book may come across better in audio form than as a book (sound effects, exclamations, singing & so forth are part of the text). I know that on Amazon & elsewhere this book has sometimes been criticized for "missing the black experience" in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe in the same period. Something that had to be equally, or more harrowing frankly. But the author can't be faulted for writing about her own experience, can she?
This is a wonderful book. Touching and tragic covering a pivotal point in Rhodesia?s history. It tracks the life of a white family trying to cling on in Africa. They defended themselves from armed insurgents (terrorists or freedom fighters depending on your viewpoint) in a typically British way.
What gives it its power is that it is viewed through the eyes of a young girl with one foot in the colonial past and one in the future, whatever that was to become. Her powerlessness to control events but being forced to watch sums up much of the fate of Southern Africa and it?s people. There are also plenty of poignant moments where her life reaches out across the racial divide showing that everyone involved in those turbulent times were just human beings trying to survive.
Having been born in Rhodesia I am emotionally involved but nevertheless would recommend this title for its honest portrayal of a small part of this now forgotten conflict.
Reviews written by Judy and Judy's husband Richard Davies
Thanks to Lisette Lecat's spirited narration, this is a book that may well be better listened to than read in hard copy. Fuller remembers the richest of childhoods, led during a time of struggle and war in Rhodesia - now Zimbabwe, and later in Malawi and Zambia. Her mother could be dismissed as a bitter, depressed racist, and a drunk. But no! this woman was Alexandra Fuller's mum. And she has an intense of love of family. The book is timely touching and funny: truly out of Africa. Beautifully written and told with wit and wisdom. Spend some time with this one.
This is a gorgeous, sad, hilarious, very moving memoir. Fuller's parents are amazing people, and their situation is Africa is beyond imagining. Then add in Lisette Lecat and you will not be able to stop listening. This narrator is extraordinary. I generally avoid all but the authors reading their own books, but in this case I have to say I can scarely imagine even the author improving up Lecat. She must be South African, right? I mean, she has the voices & accents just pitch perfect. This is a great read. Oh, sure, it culminates in the narrator's wedding, which reminds you of just how young this writer still is. But give it to her. She's a remarkable writer--her restraint as impressive as her descriptive powers.
I was born in Papua New Guinea in early 1970's to a Papua New Guinean mother and Scottish father. I could relate to alot of the issues and some incidents in the story - the racism, the colonist attitudes, hurt parents and the richness of the country.
I got a good sense of Africa (and I havn't been there).
Really liked the story. Olivia died by accident, it wasn't anyones fault.
I agree with previous reviews....this is a brilliant,rare gem of a book. Having lived some years in Southern Africa....it brought back the feel Rhodesia/Zimbabwe....truly a rare glimpse into a world unknown to most of us.
The reader IS EXCEPTIONAL! This is one of those books that is BETTER in AUDIO...due to the narration. She has the accent's down pat!
Get it....your world view and heart will be the fuller for it!
I'm going from chapter to chapter in life. Some are definitely better than others!
This is a good book for anyone with an interest in African modern history.
Lisette Lecat has done marvelous readings for Alexander McCall's 'The Lady's First Detective' series. Her performance in 'Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight' certainly is a plus.
The story line rather rambled at times, and at other times was gripping. I did learn more about what it was like to live in Rhodesia, as the country became Zimbabwe.
To begin with, this was a fascinating book. The author (who must now be in her 30s) grew up in several countries in Africa.
Her (white) parents, who were unashamedly racist, moved the family from one country to another when the white ruling classes were overthrown.
The author ("Bobo") describes the ordinariness of training children to apply tourniquets, bandage war wounds and insert and monitor IV fluids, all skills that were needed in the wars against various freedom fighters. In addition, Bobo talks about life with her severely alcoholic, bipolar, animal-loving and native-despising mother, her perenially unsuccessful father and her beautiful older sister.
The first part of the book, which concerns her young childhood, was very sad, but the second half, which describes the great beauty of Africa, and Bobo's experiences in non-segregated society, is fascinating and filled with her obvious love for the continent.
It wasn't an easy listen, but it was a truly illuminating one.
Fuller's biography about growing up as a white African during the 70s and 80s in each African country ruled/formerly ruled by the British is fascinating. She doesn't gloss over her own rough behavior or warts of her family. Their living experience is really interesting as it was totally different than growing up in the US during the same period.
"Fantastic tale of a life spent in Africa"
Exceeded expectations and perfect narration almost felt like I was there with the family
Highly recommended for anyone else who found Africa a spiritual place to visit
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