Joan Colby's Reviews > Twenty Chickens for a Saddle

Twenty Chickens for a Saddle by Robyn Scott
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Mar 26, 10


A perfectly marvelous memoir of growing up in Botswana which is quite unlike Zimbabwe in Godwin's memoir. The Scott family consisted of daughters Robyn and Lulu, son Damien and their iconoclastic parents Keith and Linda. Keith is a doctor who travels to clinics in rural Botswana and ends up years later in despondency over the advent of AIDs which is more prevalent in that land than any other African country. He discovers a natural herbal treatment which boosts immunity and could be useful as an adjunct to retrovirals, but is unable to convince the government to conduct official trials. Linda is an enthusiast of natural healing and nutrition, writes books on these topics and is a graduate of Oxford. She home schools her children as both she and Keith have progressive ideas about education as well as medicine and nutrition and it actually turns out quite well despite her own parents reservations about how their grandchildren are being educated. By high school all the children go to boarding schools in Zimbabwe which has superior institutions. Robyn is enrolled in a convent where her forthright behavior both alarms and charms the nuns. The family lives for the most part in the country in a converted cowshed on the property owned by Keith's father the legendary bush pilot Ivor Scott. Grandpa Ivor is quite the character: a dreamer and entrepreneur who fails time after time but is never discouraged. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross in WWII for his reckless exploits. The British eccentric tradition is certainly exhibited by the Scott family. Later on, the Scotts move to another more remote area of Botswana. Their adventures with local wildlife, horses and natives are amusingly rendered. The narrative takes a turn when the family becomes involved in trying to find a cure for AIDs which has infected 50% of Botswana's population. Keith's discouragement vis a vis the sterol substance he has patented leads to the parents selling the farm and ultimately separating as Linda goes to Britain to complete a masters, and all the children disperse to various universities.Regardless, the buoyant and positive attitudes of this family despite adversities makes for entertaining and uplifting reading.
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