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.
andldquo;Electrifyingandhellip;Writing in shimmering, musical proseandhellip; Ms. Fuller manages the difficult feat of writing about her mother and father with love and understanding, while at the same time conveying the terrible human costs of the colonialism they supportedandhellip; Although Ms. Fuller would move to America with her husband in 1994, her own love for Africa reverberates throughout these pages, making the beauty and hazards of that land searingly real for the reader.andrdquo;
andldquo;Ten years after publishing Donandrsquo;t Letandrsquo;s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, Alexandra (Bobo) Fuller treats us in this wonderful book to the inside scoop on her glamorous, tragic, indomitable motherandhellip;Bobo skillfully weaves together the story of her romantic, doomed family against the background of her motherandrsquo;s remembered childhood.andrdquo;
The writer's finesse at handling the element of time is brilliant
, as she interweaves near-present-day incidents with stories set in the past. Both are equally vividandhellip; With andquot;Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulnessandquot; Alexandra Fuller, master memoirist, brings her readers new pleasure. Her mum should be pleased.andrdquo;and#160;
andldquo;Fuller's narrative is a love story to Africa and her family. She plumbs her family story with humor, memory, old photographs and a no-nonsense attitude toward family foibles, follies and tragedy. The reader is rewarded with an intimate family story played out against an extraordinary landscape, told with remarkable grace and style.andrdquo;
andldquo;[Fuller] conveys the magnetic pull that Africa could exert on the colonials who had a taste for it, the powerful feeling of attachment. She does not really explain that feelingandmdash;she is a writer who shows rather than tellsandmdash;but through incident and anecdote she makes its effects clear, and its costs.andrdquo;
andldquo;[A]n artistic and emotional feat.andrdquo;
andldquo;An eccentric, quixotic and downright dangerous tale with full room for humor, love and more than a few highballs.andrdquo;
“[A]n artistic and emotional feat.” THE BOSTON GLOBE
A story of survival and war, love and madness, loyalty and forgiveness, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is an intimate exploration of Fullerandrsquo;s parents and of the price of being possessed by Africaandrsquo;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.