Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller

Another book that I listened to on audio. I love travel narratives, I love adventurous women, and I really, really love Beryl Markham's WEST WITH THE NIGHT (it's hard to say which is more astonishing: the true-life events or the prose) as well as Isak Dinesen/Karin Blixen's OUT OF AFRICA. (I had a one day layover in Nairobi a while back & I used it to visit the Blixen plantation.)

I thought it could be really great to read a contemporary take on the colonial (actually post-colonial) scenario. Probably not more pleasant--systemic oppression and economic exploitation are much less fun to read about than flying single-engine planes or falling in love with a sexy, aristocratic pilot--but worthwhile.

Alexandra Fuller was not the woman to deliver a clear-eyed contemporary take on... in this case, Rhodesia. She mostly writes about her family, and mostly about her mother. Fuller mocks her mother for aping Markham and Blixen, using their lives as templates for her own and imitating their exploits.

Fuller is right when she insists that this is a doomed and rather pathetic endeavor. That era is over and a modern Markham/Blixen would move on to new adventures, not get stuck in the past.

But as much as she mocks her mother, she has no other subject. She doesn't look past the confines of her own family for inspiration, she takes no wider view. The book is mean-spirited, not wry or arch or any other word that might screen her nastiness.

I ended up really disliking this book. Do not recommend.