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Wildflower: An Extraordinary Life and Untimely Death in Africa


Wildflower: An Extraordinary Life and Untimely Death in Africa Cover





She always knew he would come back to her.

He would climb into his helicopter at first light one Nairobi morning

and rise above the screaming madhouse of the city, tilting west over

East Africa’s largest slum, and flying out into wonder: out over the

Great Rift Valley, the cradle of civilization, a three- thousand- mile- long

seam in the earth that stretches from Syria to Mozambique but is at its

most glorious here in Kenya. As the floor of the world dropped away,

opening into endless sky and a breathtaking vista, he would follow this

corridor straight back to her.

There were things she longed to tell him, things only he would understand.

Everything she’d been too shy and self- effacing to say before

would now come pouring out, just as it had in all of the letters she had

written him, letters she never sent:

A lifetime has passed since we split, and yet some memories of

things we did together seem [as if they happened] only the other

day. There is so much I would like to say and share with you—now

I know I am not inferior to you.

She waited for him in her blue house beside the lake, which looked

so perfect and placid from the air. But this was merely another extreme

in a country where great beauty coexists with unimaginable brutality,

where the border between life and death is the thinnest of lines, where

nothing is ever as it seems.

Now in contact with others, I realize how knowledgeable I am

about the natural world. . . . People respect me nowadays. But the

only love of my life is one of the few people I cannot communicate

with, even as a friend.

She could leave all that pain behind as soon as he came back into her

life. Flying over the mountains and dormant volcanoes that form a natural

amphitheater around the lake, he would hover over the emeraldgreen

water, taking in its wide, verdant, wildlife- infested expanse.

When you flew over and saw the blue house you were probably

happy you didn’t live here anymore, but I am really such a different

person, I hardly know myself. I have written you so many letters in

my head but when I try to write I go to pieces.

She imagined him buzzing the house, as playfully as he always had,

then touching down on the grass landing strip and stepping out, as if

returning from only a brief safari instead of half a lifetime. Then at last

she would impress him with her independence and accomplishments

and show him the abiding endurance of her love.

Finally, he did come back to her, flying in with the dawn on January

13, 2006. It was not, however, as she had dreamed for so long. He

hadn’t come to reunite with the woman who had once been his wife,

partner, and best friend, the woman he’d left to live alone in Africa for

sixteen years.

He had come to collect her remains.

From the Hardcover edition.Copyright © 2009 by Mark Seal

Product Details

An Extraordinary Life and Untimely Death in Africa
Random House
Seal, Mark
Mark Seal
Biography & Autobiography : General
Biography & Autobiography : Women
Women conservationists - Kenya
Root, Joan
Women conservationists
General Biography
Naturalists, Gardeners, Environmentalists
Africa - Kenya
Biography - General
World History-Africa
Publication Date:

Related Subjects

Biography » General
Biography » Women
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Womens Studies
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Environment

Wildflower: An Extraordinary Life and Untimely Death in Africa
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Product details 232 pages Random House - English 9781588368614 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Follows the life of the conservationist and filmaker who was killed in her Kenyan home in 2006.
"Synopsis" by , With compassion and an unswerving regard for the truth, veteran journalist Mark Seal lays bare the deeply moving, inspirational story of Joan Root, a dedicated environmentalist and Oscar-nominated wildlifefilmmaker. He covers her early days in Kenya as a shy young woman with an almost uncanny ability to connect to animals; her whirlwind courtship with the dashing Alan Root, their marriage, and the twenty years of nonstopadventure and passionate romance that followed, both in Africa and around the world; the shattering disintegration of the marriage and partnership; and Joan's triumphant struggle to reinvent herself as theprotector of her lakeshore community's fragile ecosystem--a struggle that would lead to her tragic death in January 2006. Joan Root dreamed of a bright future for Kenya, a country blessed with unmatchedbeauty but scarred by decades of colonization and a culture of corruption. She spent her life fighting to make that dream a reality. Her life ended too soon, but thanks to Seal's meticulousre-creation, her extraordinary life lives on. (People, four-star review)
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