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Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  10,782 ratings  ·  1,382 reviews
In this sequel to Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller returns to Africa and the story of her unforgettable family.

In Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, Alexandra Fuller braids a multilayered narrative around the perfectly lit, Happy Valley-era Africa of her mother's childhood; the boiled cabbage grimness of her father's English childhood; and
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published August 23rd 2011 by Penguin Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Kelly Yes, a huge difference. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight felt more raw - I could feel Bobo's heart in her throat as she wrote the story. All of her…moreYes, a huge difference. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight felt more raw - I could feel Bobo's heart in her throat as she wrote the story. All of her terror, amazement, fear, and resentment were so alive on the page. I also believe that her writing style was more original, less traditional, and more lyrical in the first book.

I just finished Cocktail Hour and found it to be more anthropological. I absolutely love Nicola and her voice, and I was happy that the story focused on her life. Because it wasn't Bobo's story to tell, this does feel like it's told at arm's length - it isn't as vital or vivid. Also, there is a sense that "everything worked out and everyone is OK", which, when reading Don't Let's Go, isn't really clear. You don't know what's coming, or what other tragedies and hardships the Fullers will weather. You know that Bobo makes it out OK, but that things happened in Africa that she can't escape and absolutely must write about.(less)

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Aug 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
To read Fuller's books is to immerse yourself in the history of Africa, and most of it is pretty tragic and tough to fathom. While Fuller's mother reminisces about her Scottish ancestors, she herself is haunted by the Tasmanian natives forced into slavery on the family's ancient estate. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to reconcile the fundamental need to see all people as equal with an entire family history predicated on the belief that they are not. Rhodesia's appalling history, that the ...more
Dec 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: school
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, ...more
This book is a memoir of all the good and bad and how to survive in the African wilderness.

I find myself mesmerized, enchanted, sad, elated and pondering. Most of all, it was a great read. Sometimes I hollered with laughter.

I love these quotes from the book:

"No one starts a war warning that those involved will lose their innocence - that children will definitely die and be forever lost as a result of the conflict; that the war will not end for generations and generations, even after cease-fire
Years ago I read Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller. I loved it. I have been very foolish in not picking up this book sooner. You do not need to read both, but I would highly recommend it. This is “awful book number two”, as the author’s Mom would call it. The two books are about the author’s family, their time in “Central Africa”, that is to say Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. The reason why I really love these books, and I love both of them, is that the writer talks ...more
Alexandra Fuller wrote of her African childhood in Don’t Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight—known afterward to her family as the “Awful Book”—and her fey mother, Nicola Fuller of Central Africa, emerged as the most memorable character. In Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, Fuller returns to that harshest of continents to chart her mother’s life and memories as a one million percent Highland Scottish woman who grew up in the perfect equatorial light of colonial Kenya, who led a hardscrabble ...more
lucky little cat
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Here Alexandra Fuller has essentially rewritten her superb and funny memoir Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight to make her parents sound more responsible and less like drunken bartop-dancing rowdies

Cover story: Mum & her first best friend.

who spent a lot of her childhood soused and/or depressed. Hope Mum spoke to her again after this one.

It's a credit to Fuller's skill as a writer that this "sequel" is nearly as engaging as the first book, but for entirely different reasons. The
Marc Weitz
Feb 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
Ever sat down with a friend for cocktails only to have them retell their same old stories without showing the slightest bit of interest in you? That was this book. This is the fourth book I've read from this author, which means that I've read all her books. Obviously, I've enjoyed them, or I would not have bothered reading this one. But the author rehashes many stories from her first book "Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight," only this time from her parents' perspective and without the in-depth ...more
Jan 13, 2013 rated it did not like it
This was a disappointment. I'd read her other books, and while none matched the wit and visceral life of Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, the one about the African Soldier was okay, but I couldn't even finish this one it was so boring and such a re-hashing of her her first book. Maybe I know Africa too well, but I felt an elitist tone to this one that I didn't pick up in her first book. The African Soldier one did leave me perplexed as to how someone could be privileged enough to just be able ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I love the title, but if I had a Tree of Forgetfulness, why then would I need a Cocktail Hour?
This book gives some insight into the wackiness of Bobo's parents, especially her mother, "Nicola Fuller of Central Africa," whom we first encountered in Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight.

I think this passage from page 125 illustrates a bit of life for the often dissolute British colonials in Africa in the mid-20th century. A horse vet named Charlie organized hunts bringing together large groups of
May 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jill
(Read the original post by clicking here.)

Alexandra Fuller’s latest book, The Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, continues to roam around in my imagination more than a month after I finished reading it. She is a memoirist who transports the reader to a time and place you could never otherwise know and experience it with compassion and good humor.

Even her title invites the reader to the place in the African village where people meet, talk, discuss, negotiate, laugh, drink, sing,
Oct 27, 2011 rated it liked it
What happened to all of those whites who once lived good lives in Rhodesia and east central Africa? That is, before the civil wars of the 60's and early 70's turned the countries over to native Africans. Many left, of course, but some remained, and Fuller's book is an tribute to her parents who stayed on. It's an followup to her earlier book, DON'T LETS GO TO THE DOGS TONIGHT about her childhood growing up in this volatile environment. She married and left Africa, and returns only to visit her ...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
I'm having such a difficult time writing this review even though I loved this book (or maybe as a result of loving it!). As a memoir/biography, it had my favorite elements: compelling individuals, a wry writing style, and a tumultuous setting in a location and era I enjoy.

I found myself describing this to friends as a kind of apology to Fuller's mother, Nicola, for Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Fuller's memoir of growing up in Rhodesia during the violent conflicts there. What I've read so
You know that game where you choose the 4 or 5 people, fictional, dead or living, with whom you'd like to have dinner? I'd invite Tim, Nicola, Van and Bobo Fuller.

Just reading the first page I was struck by and immediately drunk on how much I love Alexandra Fuller's writing. I was straight back with my bare feet on the ground in Africa, surrounded by this wild bunch, the tick-infested dogs, the chirping tree frogs, the curious elephants and crocodiles, and in the middle of everything, somehow
Deborah Gray
Mar 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
I normally don't read other people's reviews before I do my own, because I don't want to be influenced. I can see why I thought this was a good idea. There are too many wildly differing opinions on this book, which is about par for the number of different personalities reviewing them, but they did start to make me wonder if I was crazy to love it.

Because I did love this book. Alexandra Fuller writes beautifully with such wit and clarity that I was captivated. I didn't care that some of these
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 24-in-2015
I read DON'T LET'S GO TO THE DOGS TONIGHT many years ago, so I don't remember it well, which is probably a blessing since this book apparently covers some of the same material, only this time from Fuller's mother's point of view. Nicola Fuller is a self-absorbed narcissist prone to the "wobblies," periods of depression/manic behavior. She is also completely unapologetic about white rule in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), where much of this book is set. It's a testament to Fuller's skill as a writer that ...more
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
highly recommend the audio version
Brian Sweany
Aug 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
In 2001 Alexandra "Bo" Fuller's DON’T LET’S GO TO THE DOGS took the publishing world by storm. It was named the Booksense Non-Fiction Book of the Year and won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize, hitting the bestseller lists of the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Boston Globe. “A classic is born,” hailed Publishers Weekly in a starred review. “This is not a book you read just once, but a tale of terrible beauty to get lost in over and over,” added Newsweek. The book has since gone on to ...more
Oct 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Alexandra Fuller revisits the life she told us about in Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, her first book. That book was written from a child's perspective. This book is written from an adult's perspective. In both books, Fuller focuses primarily on her mother but in this is more biographical. She provides family background for her mother (and some for her father). Her parents are African whites. Her mother grew up in Kenya and met her father there - Nicola Huntingford and Tim Fuller married ...more
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Around-the-worlders
Recommended to Judy by: Around-the-worlders
What's to say? Another winner by Alexandra Fuller. This memoir focuses on her Mum's life from her birthplace in Scotland to her residences in Zambia, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, Botswana and Malawi. Mum is never boring and I am convinced that Fuller could just transcribe her conversation and it would be a bestseller. Cheers! to Nicola Fuller of Central Africa.
Laurie Notaro
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great follow-up tp her first book. Let's Don't Go To the Dogs Tonight. I love her writing.
Oct 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I loved this but then I loved Alexandra's previous memoir of life growing up in Africa with her parents " Don't let's go to the dogs tonight ".
This a more a tribute to her mother Nicola Fuller of Central Africa . I suspect that the first book led to a rift between mother and daughter particularly as it unflinchingly reveals her excessive drinking and depressions and Nicola constantly refers to it as " That Awful Book " but this a more rounded portrait and a love letter to her parents and to
Jan 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book, a prequel/sequel, continues, and in some ways completes, the first book, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight. I fully expect and hope we have another. This book is much more reflective and reveals the author's evolving and maturing understanding of her mother. The language is beautiful and evocative, rich in imagery. Several passages are worthy of quoting.

"Whether out of desperation, ignorance, or hostility, humans have an unerring capacity to ignore one another's sacred traditions and
Apr 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
While this is a fascinating, even amusing portrait of a family lead by the author’s eccentric mother Nicola, it left me wanting to know more about Rhodesia and Africa during the collapse of British colonial rule rather than more about the family. The book is a tribute to the strengths and limitations of Fuller’s parents as they lived with the complexities of being white and often poor in Rhodesia during the 70's and 80's. In my initial search, I don't see many well-reviewed books on the ...more
Nov 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is the follow up to "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight," 2001, and like it, is about Ms. Fuller's family, primarily her mother. "Cocktail Hour..," 2011, is a perfect example of a mother and adult daughter trying to come to terms with one another. No surprise, Ms. Fuller's mother was not entirely happy with the way she was portrayed in "the awful [first] book." Who could blame her? It wasn't exactly a rousing endorsement of her mothering. She was often so wrapped up in her own mental ...more
C.G. Worrell
Dec 23, 2012 rated it liked it
While perusing the shelves of Barnes & Noble, I came across this book. The title and cover photo immediately hooked me. This memoir largely centers around the life of "Nicola Fuller of Central Africa", the eccentric mother of the author. For fifty years, we follow this pukka-pukka-sahib (most excellent mistress) and her family as political conditions and war force the Fullers from Kenya to Rhodesia to Malawi, and finally, Zambia where they run a banana and fish farm. Nicola is clearly a ...more
Elisha Condie
Sep 24, 2011 rated it liked it
I so looked forward to this book. But it honestly felt like reading "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight" again - seriously, at least half the stuff is in the other book. And yes, it gave us Nicola's point of view on events, but she doesn't add enough to make it any more interesting. It was rather tedious reading a bunch of things I had read not a month ago.

The Fuller family are nuts. They are fiercely British, but wholly African. Nicola Fuller in particular is determined to be truly Scottish
Sharon Huether
May 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Cocktail Hour Under The Tree of Forgetfulness.. By Alexandra Fuller.. Nicole's family came to Africa from Scotland. She met her husband in Central Africa, They lived in Kenya, Rhodesia, Zambia and England. Nicole was a free spirit and a complex person because of a chemical imbalance. A mother to five children, loseing 3 of her children under the age of three years. With all the grief she suffered, she always had courage to go on. Her husband managed farms. She was always helping him. They faced ...more
Melissa Acuna
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I would mortgage my soul to be able to write like Alexandra Fuller. In this beautifully written book, part memoir, part biograohy Fuller revisits the Rhodesia, Zambia of her own youth and the Africa of her mother's youth. She takes us to colonial Kenya and her mother's youth in Eldorat and seamlessly weaves her mother's memories into mini-history lessons. She moves to the gray industrial England of her Father's childhood and throws in assorted ancestral characters and eccentric living relatives. ...more
Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
"If I peel back the corner of memories of that place, what races in is too big for me to feel at one sitting--no mere piece of land can be responsible for that."

Alexandra Fuller's second "awful book" is a beautiful tribute to her parents (especially her mother) and illustrates perfectly that even within the most flawed families what really abides and counts is love and loyalty. A gem of a book, containing much of the recent history of the central African continent, written with lyrical prose.
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Meredith Franzel
Recommended to Jan by: NPR
I absolutely loved the story, Alexandra Fuller's mother was a truly a strong, courageous and hilariously funny woman. This book is a love story of her parents and her love and pride in them. It is also a very honest memoir just like Don't Let's Us go to the Dogs Tonight. I always have loved books about Africa and this one is one of the best.
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Alexandra Fuller has written five books of non-fiction.

Her debut book, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood (Random House, 2001), was a New York Times Notable Book for 2002, the 2002 Booksense best non-fiction book, a finalist for the Guardian’s First Book Award and the winner of the 2002 Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize.

Her 2004 Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African
“You learn not to mourn every little thing out here, or you’d never, ever stop grieving.” 42 likes
“Surely until all of us own and honor one another's dead, until we have admitted to our murders and forgiven one another and ourselves for what we have done, there can be no truce, no dignity and no peace.” 9 likes
More quotes…