Friday, 10 September 2010

Women in Africa

I sat beside my mother, only a little less fortified in a pith helmet and a starched cotton dress.
Out of Africa has been haunting me since I read it and LizF's comment about The Flame Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley inspired me to seek it out. Happily this coincided with a visit to the lovely big Waterstones in Brighton which had a copy on the shelves.

Elspeth Huxley's account of a childhood in Kenya is lively and extremely well-written. I loved the dry wit of her father Robin and her fearless mother, Tilly. There was also the aristocratic Lettice, completely out of place in Africa with her two spoilt Pekingese dogs Chang and Zena who sit on silk cushions all day until poor Chang meets his demise when a hungry leopard snatches him from the veranda.

Published in 1959 The Flame Trees of Thika documents Elspeth's experiences as a British child growing up in Africa and the hardships her parents faced as settlers as well as their remarkable resilience and optimism.


Anonymous said...

This sounds wonderful. Apart from the poor pekingese!

Anonymous said...

I also love The Flame Trees of Thika. Reading posts about women in Africa makes me think I should reread the Martha Quest series by Doris Lessing.

As far as I know, there are only two volumes of Huxley's autobiography and I wish there were more..

Rebecca H. said...

I hadn't heard of Elspeth Huxley before, and she sounds really interesting! I do enjoy a good memoir now and then.

Hannah Stoneham said...

Sounds excellent, I know Out of Africa but have not come across The Flame Trees of thika... I should look it up

Thanks for another lovely post


Eva said...

Have you read Beryl Markham's West With the Night? I bet you'd enjoy that one too!

LizF said...

Glad you enjoyed it! I went in search of my copy after mentioning it to you and it is next on my TBR pile!
I agree with Eva that you would enjoy Beryl Markham's book - she was quite a character!

Jillian said...

This sounds so beautiful. Thank you for sharing. :-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for reminding me of a long ago read. I loved it when I read it for a book discussion group I was in so many years ago. Long before blogs and such, I probably wouldn't have picked it had I not been in a group.

You are on a roll here. You might want to try The Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway. Her memoirs of growing up in Australia and the repressive climate for women intellectually. She eventually comes to the States and becomes the first female president of Smith College.

Nan said...

I have this and so look forward to reading it! Did you ever see the television production with Hayley Mills? It was so good that I still remember it all these years later.

Lauren said...

I loved this book.

You may not be old enough to remember but years ago public telelvision in the US rebroadcast a British version of the book with Hayley Mills as the mother It was wonderful.

Something to look for.

Huxley also wrote a few mysteries.

I love your blog!