Monday, 4 June 2012
There's none like us ...
Disembarking from the plane at Nairobi with newly blonde hair and wearing a blue linen suit she is spotted by the young Tim Fuller recently arrived in East Africa to work on a tree farm. He falls in love with her and as a handsome couple 'there's none like us' they settle in Kenya and later manage a farm in Rhodesia. Alexandra Fuller intersperses the story of her parents with her own memories of a Rhodesian childhood, her mother driving her daughters to a fancy dress party in the land rover, checking her hair and lipstick in the rear-view mirror and positioning her gun out of the window. Fuller writes beautifully of the 'sepia light' of Kenya and the wind 'red with dust' blowing from Uganda.
But this book is not just a story of Africa, it's the story of her mother who lived through the terrible violence of Rhodesia's struggle for independence and buried three babies on African soil. Yet she retains a wonderful Nancy Mitford style humour. When she sees predatory rich European women seeking sexual favours from young men she asks 'Why can't they just go to bed with a good book?'
This is no tale of the glamorous and foolish Happy Valley set. Fuller's parents lived and worked on the land and still continue to run a fish and banana farm in the Zambezi valley today.
As a young woman Nicola Fuller hoped to inspire a classic African memoir such as West with the Night, The Flame Trees of Thikka or Out of Africa. I'd say she has.