Linda's Reviews > The Flame Trees of Thika: Memories of an African Childhood

The Flame Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley
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Apr 05, 11

Read from March 19 to 21, 2011

In 1913 Elspeth Huxley and her parents traveled from England to Kenya, where her father, Robin, had dreams of owning and running a coffee plantation. Robin was pretty clueless about methods he should use to fulfill his dreams, such as how to befriend the natives and convince them to come and work for him. His wife, Tilly, was adventuresome and resourceful; she kept house under primitive conditions, home schooled Elspeth, and befriended the British neighbors who gradually settled nearby. They left Kenya during World War I, but returned afterwards – that story is told in a sequel called “The Mottled Lizard” which I have not yet read. “Flame Trees” is told through Elspeth’s eyes and in her voice, which I found disconcerting because it isn’t consistent with what she would have known and understood as a young child. Still, her descriptions of the African land and its people are vivid, and I am always impressed by people who are able to transport their entire lives to a challenging place with so many unknowns.
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