Synopses & Reviews
A mesmerizing novel of love and nostalgia set in the vast spaces of contemporary East Africa.
Romantic, often resonantly ironic, moving and wise, Rules of the Wild transports us to a landscape of unsurpassed beauty even as it gives us a sharp-eyed portrait of a closely knit tribe of cultural outsiders: the expatriates living in Kenya today. Challenged by race, by class, and by a longing for home, here are "safari boys" and samaritans, reporters bent on their own fame, travelers who care deeply about elephants but not at all about the people of Africa. They all know each other. They meet at dinner parties, they sleep with each other, they argue about politics and the best way to negotiate their existence in a place where they don't really belong.
At the center is Esmé, a beautiful young woman of dazzling ironies and introspections, who tells us her story in a voice both passionate and self-deprecating. Against a paradoxical backdrop of limitless physical freedom and escalating civil unrest, Esmé struggles to make sense of her own place in Africa and of her feelings for the two men there whom she loves--Adam, a second-generation Kenyan who is the first to show her the wonders of her adopted land, and Hunter, a British journalist sickened by its horrors.
Rules of the Wild evokes the worlds of Isak Dinesen, Beryl Markham, and Ernest Hemingway. It explores unforgettably our infinite desire for a perfect elsewhere, for love and a place to call home. It is an astonishing literary debut.
Set in contemporary Nairobi, this is at once a sharp-eyed dissection of white society in modern Kenya and the moving story of a young woman, Esme, struggling to make sense of her place in Africa, and her feelings for the two men she loves.
About the Author
Francesca Marciano is a documentary filmmaker who divides her time between Rome and Kenya. This is her first novel.
Reading Group Guide
The questions, discussion topics, and suggested reading list that follow are designed to enhance your groupŐs experience of reading Francesca Marciano's Rules of the Wild
. We hope they will give you many new ways of approaching this romantic and beautiful story in the tradition of Out of Africa
and West with the Night
Rules of the Wild tells the dramatic tale of Esmé, a young Italian woman torn between two cultures and two lovers. After the death of her beloved father, feeling estranged from her own roots in the hyper-civilized society of Naples, Esmé flees to Africa. She is soon seduced by the land's vast emptiness and healing beauty, and decides on a whim to make her home there. Before long she is caught up in the strange world of expatriates in Kenya, living side-by-side with, yet oddly separate from, their African neighbors. Her vision of her adopted continent undergoes a series of changes as she begins to see it through the eyes of the two men in her life: Adam, the gentle safari leader, born in the wild and thoroughly at home there; and Hunter, the bitter and cynical war correspondent who, as witness to the genocidal warfare of Rwanda, has acquired an entirely different perception of Africa. As time goes on Esmé learns, with pain and joy, to understand herself, her heart, and the powerful love that has drawn her to Kenya and keeps her there.