Dec 29, 11
Read from December 29, 2011 to January 03, 2012
Several years ago, I read Fuller's Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, a memoir of her young life as a white girl in Southern (NOT South) Africa, and although I don't remember the specifics, I do remember that I closed the book with a sense of history and humor, so I was pleased to see that she'd published a new book. This one, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, does not disappoint. This time around, the author sets her sights on the experiences of her parents, especially her mother, Nicola. The book starts out feeling somewhat glib and suspicious, but as Fuller settles into the narrative, the rich stories of her parents' lives unfold - her mother's childhood in colonial Kenya, her father's rootlessness, their falling in love and decision to stay in Africa, despite the wars for African independence that rolled across the continent in the sixties and seventies. As Fuller recounts the experiences of her family in Rhodesia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia, two feelings settled over me: this was really a love story ("Tubs" and Tim are obviously deeply in love, even after all these years - and the author deeply loves and admires her parents, no matter what), and that none of the family will ever really recover from her parents' decision to stay in Africa no matter what the consequences. Fuller creates an achingly beautiful and heartbreaking piece of work here, which manages to evoke the beauty and horror of the "Dark Continent" as well as the optimism and determination of her parents' personalities. She deftly weaves personal experience with the historical realities of Kenya, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, and Zambia, which makes her effort especially remarkable. In the end, I closed the book feeling thankful, sad, and deeply in need of a cocktail. Cheers to Alexandra Fuller and her amazing love song to her family.