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Cocktail hour under the tree of forgetfulness /

In this sequel to Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, the author returns to Africa and the story of her unforgettable family. In this book she braids a multilayered narrative around the perfectly lit, Happy Valley era Africa of her mother's childhood; the boiled cabbage grimness of her father's... Full description

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Language: English
Published: Penguin Press, 2011
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SUMMARY

Selected by The New York Times Book Review as a Notable Book of the Year

In Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness Alexandra Fuller returns to Africa and to her unforgettable family, whom readers first met in Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight . At the heart of this family, and central to the lifeblood of her latest story, is Fuller's iconically courageous mother, Nicola (or, Nicola Fuller of Central Africa, as she sometimes prefers to be known). Born on the Scottish Isle of Skye to a warlike clan of highlanders and raised in Kenya's perfect equatorial light, Nicola holds dear the 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. With a lifetime of admiration behind her and after years of interviews and research, Fuller has recaptured her mother's inimitable voice with remarkable precision. Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is as funny, exotic, terrifying and unselfconscious as Nicola herself.

We see Nicola as an irrepressible child in western Kenya, then with the man who fell in love with her, Tim Fuller. The young couple begin their life in a lavender colored honeymoon period, when east Africa lies before them with all the promise of its liquid honeyed light, even as the British empire in which they both once believed wanes. But in short order, an accumulation of mishaps and tragedies bump up against history until the Fullers find themselves in a world they hardly recognize. We follow Tim and Nicola as they hopscotch the continent, restlessly trying to establish a home, from Kenya to Rhodesia to Zambia, even returning to England briefly. War, hardship and tragedy seem to follow the family even as Nicola fights to hold onto 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 - and Tim's acceptance of her love for this earth - that revives and nurtures her.

A story of survival and war, love and madness, loyalty and forgiveness, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is an intimate exploration of the author's family and of the price of being possessed by this uncompromising, fertile, death-dealing land. In the end we find Nicola and Tim at a table under their Tree of Forgetfulness in the Zambezi Valley on the banana and fish farm where they plan to spend their final days. In local custom, the Tree of Forgetfulness is where villagers meet to resolve disputes and it is here that the family 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.

Alexandra Fuller is also the author of the forthcoming novel, Quiet Until the Thaw .


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Cast of Main Charactersp. xi
Part 1
Nicola Fuller of Central Africa Learns to Flyp. 3
Nicola Huntingford Is Bornp. 12
Nicola Fuller and the Fancy Dress Partiesp. 25
Roger Huntingford's Warp. 41
Nicola Huntingford Learns to Ridep. 51
Nicola Fuller of Central Africa Goes to Her High School Reunionp. 63
Nicola Huntingford, the Afrikaner and the Perfect Horsep. 77
Nicola Huntingford and the Mau Maup. 90
Part 2
Tim Fuller of No Fixed Abodep. 107
Nicola Fuller and the Perfect Housep. 120
Nicola Fuller in Rhodesia: Round Onep. 133
Nicola Fuller in Englandp. 146
Nicola Fuller in Rhodesia: Round Twop. 156
Oliviap. 171
Nicola Fuller and the End of Rhodesiap. 184
Part 3
Nicola Fuller of Central Africa and the Tree of Forgetfulnessp. 199
Nicola Fuller of Central Africa at Homep. 216
Acknowledgmentsp. 225
Appendix: Nicola Fuller of Central Africa: The Soundtrackp. 229
Glossary: A Guide to Unusual or Foreign Words and Phrasesp. 231


Review by Booklist Review

*Starred Review* In her fourth memoir, Fuller revisits her vibrant, spirited parents, first introduced in Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight (2002), which her mother referred to as tha. awful book. While that so-calle. awful boo. focused on Fuller's memories of growing up in Rhodesia during that country's civil war, this one focuses solely on her parents: their youth, their meeting, and their struggles to find a home on the continent they are both so passionate about. Fuller's mother, Nicola, the child of Scottish parents, grew up in Kenya, while her father, Tim, had an austere childhood in London. Tim wandered the world before landing in Kenya and meeting Nicola. Readers will recall the hardships the couple faced from Fuller's first memoir: the deaths of three of their five children and the loss of their home in Rhodesia. This time around, Nicola is well aware her daughter is writing another memoir, and shares some of her memories under the titular Tree of Forgetfulness, which looms large by the elder Fullers' house in Zambia. Fuller's prose is so beautiful and so evocative that readers will feel that they, too, are sitting under that tree. A gorgeous tribute to both her parents and the land they love.--Huntley, Kristin. Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

A sardonic follow-up to her first memoir about growing up in Rhodesia circa the 1970s, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, this work traces in wry, poignant fashion the lives of her intrepid British parents, determined to stake a life on their farm despite the raging African civil war around them. Fuller's mother is the central figure, Nicola Fuller of Central, as she is known, born "one million percent Highland Scottish"; she grew up mostly in Kenya in the 1950s, was schooled harshly by the nuns in Eldoret, learned to ride horses masterfully, and married a dashing Englishman before settling down on their own farm, first in Kenya, then Rhodesia, where the author (known as Bobo) and her elder sister, Vanessa, were born in the late 1960s. The outbreak of civil war in the mid-1970s resolved the family to dig in deeper on their farm in Robandi, rather than flee, to order to preserve a life of colonial privilege and engrained racism that was progressively vanishing. While the girls dispersed as grownups (the author lives in Wyoming with her American husband), the parents managed to secure a fish and banana farm in the middle of the Zambezi valley in Zambia, and under a legendary Tree of Forgetfulness (where ancestors are supposed to reside and help resolve trouble) they ruminate with their visitors over the long-gone days, full of death and loss, the ravages of war, and a determination to carry on. Fuller achieves another beautifully wrought memoir. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Fuller's previous well-received memoir Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood dealt with her time growing up amid the harsh realities of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) during civil war in the 1970s. In her new memoir, billed as a combination of prequel and sequel, she focuses on her mother, Nicola Fuller, whose adventurous spirit, droll humor, and abiding love for Africa were challenged by the tragic deaths of three of her young children and her subsequent mental breakdown. Fuller evocatively depicts her mother's Kenya childhood, marriage to Tim Fuller, and the ensuing chaos and joys of raising a family and eking out a precarious living amid the wild and inspiring African landscape. Her eloquent depiction of her mother's darker sides, including racism, alcoholism, and mental illness, reveals a fascinating, flawed, and funny woman whose story illuminates the contradictions and extremes of Africa -itself. -VERDICT Unsparing, well written, and spiced with many compelling anecdotes, this vivid tale of a one-of-a-kind matriarch and her family's fortitude through adversity and absurdity will be relished by memoir fans and recreational readers interested in Africa. Such readers may also enjoy Isak Dinesen's classic Out of Africa or Barbara Kingsolver's dark novel The Poisonwood Bible. [See Prepub Alert, 1/31/11.]-Ingrid Levin, Salve Regina Univ. Lib., Newport, RI (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
AUTHOR NOTES

Alexandra Fuller was born in England in 1969. In 1972, she moved with her family to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). At the end of that country's civil war, the family moved to Malawi and later Zambia. Fuller received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada after which she returned to Zambia where she worked with a safari company. In 1993, Fuller and her husband settled near Livingstone on the banks of the Zambezi River. In 1994, she left Africa and moved to Wyoming, USA In 2011, her book Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness made Publisher's Weekly Best seller list. Fuller's title, Leaving Before the Rains Come, made the New York Times bestseller list in 2015.

(Bowker Author Biography) Alexandra Fuller was born in England in 1969. In 1972, she moved with her family to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). At the end of that country's civil war, the family moved to Malawi and later Zambia. Fuller received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada after which she returned to Zambia where she worked with a safari company.

In 2011, her book Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness made Publisher's Weekly Best seller list. She is also the author of Leaving Before the Rains Come, a non-fiction work which made the New York Time bestseller list in 2015.

(Bowker Author Biography)


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