Out of Africa was first published in 1937, after the author's return to Denmark. Shadows on the Grass consists of four more essays. The first three we Out of Africa was first published in 1937, after the author's return to Denmark. Shadows on the Grass consists of four more essays. The first three were written in the 1950s and the last, titled 'Echoes from the Hills', was written in the 60s. They just add a few more details about events and characters mentioned in the original book.
The movie Out of Africa, starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep, was produced and directed by Sydney Pollack. It was based not only on Blixen's Out of Africa, but also Judith Thurman's Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller, Errol Trzebinski's Silence Will Speak and Blixen's Letters from Africa, 1914-1931. The movie and Out of Africa / Shadows on the Grass are quite different. The movie is best classified as a couple's love story! The book, if it is to be classified as a love story, is of a love between a woman and a land, Africa, more specifically the Kenyan highlands and the Ngong Hills, southwest of Nairobi where she had her coffee farm. She moved here in 1914 after marriage to her Swedish second-cousin, Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke. She remained almost eighteen years, running the farm alone after she and her husband were divorced in 1925. Much of her writing is under the pen name of Isak Dinesen, her father being the Dane Wilhelm Dinesen.
This book is not an autobiography of her life. She writes of the land and the people on her farm. She says very little about family or her personal relationships, except those with her workers. In fact not one word is mentioned of her husband, and very little about her lover, the English big game hunter Denys Finch Hatton. What you are told is of his airplane crash in 1931 and of his burial on her land. In fact you do learn who she was by following her thoughts and what she does. The book is more a set of essays on events that occurred on the farm and her relationship with Kikuyus, Somalis and the nomadic Maasai. It is not complete and it is not told in chronological order. One whole section is devoted to short, short tales about animals, about African folklore and about customs. These read as fables, each with a message. She loved the Africans for their stories! She is a lovely storyteller herself. She writes about the way the Africans honor that which is written, by relating amusing stories. You learn about traditions, the dances and festivals, clothing and food. This is a book about the African world she lived in, and it is beautifully, lyrically described - particularly the landscapes, the air, the views. She is also adept at “seeing” animals. They are not merely furred beasts. They have souls. They have personalities. Her stories about animals are funny and moving, and will appeal to all animal lovers.
I was brought to tears, not when Denys died, but when she had to leave Kenya. The farm failed; it was a hopeless endeavor.
I cannot give this more than three stars. Some sections are hard to follow. Some sections are overly philosophical, but the real problem I had is of how she speaks of “the natives” in a paternalistic, if not racist tone. I do understand that this was the era of colonialism. She respects the "natives", some of them at least, and she acknowledges the wisdom and abilities they have and which Whites often lack, but she doesn't see them as equals. She looks down on them. She sees them with condescension. This disturbed me; I am of a different era! In the beginning sections I wasn’t sure if I was simply misinterpreting her words, but her outlook became blatantly evident in her first essay of Shadows on the Grass, the one entitled Farah.
The narration of the audiobook by Susan Lyons was excellent. The author writes of her African life having returned to Denmark. Sections are nostalgic in tone and Lyons reading reflects this. Clear and easy to understand. After a humorous line she pauses. You have a chance to think and then smile. ...more
When I sit in front of the screen and don't know what to write, that is usually a three star book.
Look, I am glad I read it. I certainly did learn abWhen I sit in front of the screen and don't know what to write, that is usually a three star book.
Look, I am glad I read it. I certainly did learn about Winston Churchill. Not only him but also everyone in his family, that is to say grandparents, parents, kids, nieces and nephews, grandchildren and the spouses of all these. You have to also add on the grandparents and parents and kids of the spouses. We are talking a lot of people. Also friends, enemies, work associates. Well-known authors, journalists, presidents.... LOTS of people. It is kind of hard to keep track of everybody. We are talking about upper-class, high echelon figures, royalty and aristocrats. Maybe a few of all those named could have been pared down?
The book not only looks at these people’s personalities, their respective weaknesses and strengths, but also delivers a condensed history of all that Churchill did in his lifetime. He was of course prime minister during WW2, but also again in 1951. His aim was to make a mark on history, and he certainly did! There is a lot of history in the book, and this isn't really indicated in the title. But tell me, how do you write about Churchill and not talk history? It was kind of dry sometimes and a bit long-winded. I thought the language used could have been less convoluted, quite simply more clearly stated. In books like this I prefer clarity over elegance.
I think I understand who Churchill was on completing this book, not just what he did. It was fascinating to see the twisted relationships that developed within the family. Three of his four surviving children had difficult, troubled, unsuccessful lives. Alcohol, gambling, suicide, depression, illegitimate love affairs abound. His youngest daughter, the happy successful one, Mary Soames, I read about here: A Daughter's Tale: The Memoir of Winston and Clementine Churchill's Youngest Child, but it is written by her so Pearson's book offers another point of view. It is not possible to know for sure the cause of the problems that arose, but you do get a pretty good idea.
The narration by John Lee, was clear, but too fast. Churchill was an aristocrat through and through, and Lee makes him sound even more uppity. I guess it fits the text, but I did not like it. There is a peculiar lilt to how he reads the lines; this got on my nerves. ...more
This is an utterly delightful book. I recommend it.
You need different books for different moods. This book will make you happy. I think it's becauseThis is an utterly delightful book. I recommend it.
You need different books for different moods. This book will make you happy. I think it's because it is optimistic, that isn't to say bad things are excluded from its pages. That is far from true. The book is exciting - bandits, a fire, shootings.
This is a biographical novel about the Chinese woman Lalu Nathoy (1853-1933), sold to bandits by her beloved father for the mere sum of two bags of seeds. I intentionally wrote “beloved father”. He was not a bad man, but the times were bad. Soon after, in 1872, she was smuggled into the US through San Francisco and re-sold for 2.500 USD. To whom? To a wealthy Chinese named Hong King, owner of a saloon at the mining camp in Warrens, Idaho. It was the era of the Gold Rush. Just guess what her job was to be.
What happens next is the central part of the book. How did she become Polly Bemis? What was it like to be Chinese in America at the turn of the century? This is after the Civil War. Blacks were free. Right? Well on paper. What about the Chinese? We are looking at a strong woman who valued freedom. Also a child/woman without family, without kin, without country. Who did she come to be? What did she make of her life?
The story is told very simply but covers such deep issues. Freedom. Independence and self-sufficiency. Bound feet. Rape. Chinese immigrants in the American West. Pioneer life. Friendship. Love and happiness and regrets. Aging.
The narration by Emily Zeller was very well done. Her intonations reflect men, women and children equally well. Easy to follow.
Sometimes you need to hear of a person who makes something of their life…. against all odds. The beauty of the telling is that the story is told simply, without fuss, without exaggeration. Without shrieks and exclamations. A woman, a good woman, who quietly and unobtrusively shaped her own life and those around her.
Three stars? Four stars? If you ask me if I liked the book, my immediate response is, “Yes, I really liked it! “ So I ought to give it four. Can’t a simply told story be worthy of four stars? Somehow I think three is better. ...more
On and off my Mom and I had a difficult relationship. What daughter doesn’t?! For this reason I was curious to read about the author's relationship wiOn and off my Mom and I had a difficult relationship. What daughter doesn’t?! For this reason I was curious to read about the author's relationship with her mother. This is the central theme of the book. Then I read that there was a bit of a controversy when the author stated that parts were fictional. This surprised me. The author is a fellow at Radcliffe, so I figured the book ought to be well written....
Could I spot what could have been fiction rather than fact? To this I can only respond that I often found myself asking, "How in the world did the author remember that?!"
Then there is the question of whether I liked the writing. For me the language was half of the time clever rather than clear. Too academic, too intellectual, too philosophical. If you know what you want to say, I prefer it be said as simply and clearly as possible.
In my view the author all too often saw the source of a problem as being sexual. This just didn’t occur to me! I found other explanations.
In the book I felt there were many opinionated statements about others - the author's neighbors, friends, boyfriends and her mother. While Vivian Gornick may be a fellow at Radcliffe, I haven't read that she has a degree in psychology! I cannot say that her stated conclusions are wrong, but I often came up with other feasible explanations!
Rather than empathy or understanding I all too often felt I was listening to an argument where I could not judge the validity of the statements being made.
The audiobook narration by Jill Fox was clear, but nothing special. When dramatic statements occurred she did get it right.
I am glad the book was short and am happy that at Audible you can return those audiobooks you dislike. I will be returning mine. ...more