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Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulnessby Alexandra Fuller
Synopses & Reviews
In this tour-de-force sequel to Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller returns to Africa with the story of her unforgettable family.
In Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness Alexandra Fuller braids a multi-layered narrative around the Happy Valley-era Africa of her mother's childhood; the grimness of her father's English childhood; and the darker, civil war-torn Africa of her own childhood. Born on the Scottish Isle of Skye and raised in Kenya, Nicola Fuller holds dear the kinds of values most likely to get you hurt or killed in Africa: loyalty to blood, passion for land and a holy belief in the restorative power of all animals.
Fuller captures her mother's distinctive voice with remarkable precision, rendering a life story that is as funny, terrifying, exotic and unselfconscious as Nicola herself. We see Nicola and Tim Fuller in their honeymoon period, when East Africa lies before them with all the promise of its liquid equatorial light, even as the British Empire wanes. But in short order, an accumulation of mishaps and tragedies bump up against history until the couple find themselves in a world they hardly recognize. We follow the Fullers as they run from war and unspeakable heartbreak, from Kenya to Rhodesia to Zambia, even returning to England briefly. But just when it seems that Nicola has been broken entirely by Africa, it is the African earth itself that revives her.
In the end we find Nicola and Tim at a coffee table under their Tree of Forgetfulness on the banana and fish farm where they plan to spend their final days. In local custom, the Tree is where villagers meet to resolve disputes--and it is here that the Fullers at last find an African kind of peace. Following the ghosts and dreams of memory, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is Alexandra Fuller at her very best.
A story of survival and war, love and madness, loyalty and forgiveness, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is an intimate exploration of Fuller’s parents and of the price of being possessed by Africa’s uncompromising, fertile, death-dealing land. We follow Tim and Nicola Fuller hopscotching the continent, restlessly trying to establish a home. War, hardship, and tragedy follow the family even as Nicola fights to hold on to her children, her land, her sanity. But just when it seems that Nicola has been broken by the continent she loves, it is the African earth that revives and nurtures her. Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is Fuller at her very best.
About the Author
Alexandra Fuller was born in England in 1969 and in 1972 she moved with her family to a farm in Rhodesia. After that country’s civil war in 1981, the Fullers moved first to Malawi, then to Zambia. Fuller received a B.A. from Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada. She is the author of Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, a national bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book of 2002, and a finalist for the Guardian First Book Award, and Scribbling the Cat, winner of the 2005 Ulysses Award for Art of Reportage. Fuller lives in Wyoming with her husband and children.
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