Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Review: Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
Author: Alexandra Fuller
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Pages: Hardcover; 256
Release Date: August 18, 2011
Source: TLC Book Tours
Genre: Memoir

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy a good, heartfelt memoir.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
In this sequel to Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller returns to Africa and the story of her unforgettable family. 

In Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness Alexandra Fuller 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 English childhood; and the darker, civil war- torn Africa of her own childhood. At its heart, this is the story of Fuller's mother, Nicola. Born on the Scottish Isle of Skye and raised in Kenya, Nicola 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 interviewed her mother at length and has captured her inimitable voice with remarkable precision. Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is as funny, terrifying, exotic, and unselfconscious as Nicola herself.

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is a gorgeously written memoir about Alexandra Fuller's life. I had no idea when I first picked this up that this was a continuation of her story, but I can say that reading this has sparked an interest in me to go pick up the first book! The way that Alexandra Fuller writes about her family is so wonderfully vivid that it draws your right in. If it wasn't for the fact that I knew this was a memoir, I could almost believe that Fuller's life was fiction. That's how amazing her memoir really is.

From the beautiful Isle of Skye in Scotland, to the vibrant and lush lands of East Africa, the reader is taken on a journey through Nicola Fuller's childhood and beyond. Alexandra Fuller treats her mother's story as something exotic, but funny at the same time. There were moments that had me giggling out loud, especially as Nicola Fuller is so unabashed about her point of view on things. She says such things as "Here's to us. There's none like us, and if there were, they're all dead."

This book is beautifully written. It swells with wonderful descriptions of the African landscapes and the people who live there. Fuller even goes so far as to incorporate some history lessons on the many wars that have taken place in these areas, since her family grew up in the middle of them. One of my favorite stories was of a "fancy dress party" where Nicola Fuller grabs her girls, grabs her automatic weapon, and packs them off to a party. Unfortunately poor Alexandra doesn't fit in the front (due to her too large costume) and later reflects on how, had they hit a land mine, she wouldn't have been able to tell this story today. Tongue in cheek is the best way to describe Fuller's tone, and I adored it.

Suffice it say that Nicola Fuller is one of those larger than life people who demand the spotlight, and her daughter gives it to her in this gorgeously written memoir. If you were a fan of Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight I am sure you'll find more of the same here, or so I've gushingly been told my numerous people. If you haven't yet had a foray into the life of the Fullers, I'd suggest reading the title above first, then this one. It can definitely be read standalone but then you'll be left like me. Wanting more, and on a search for the first book.

Highly recommended! I give this memoir my gold seal of approval, and my readers know I generally don't read them much. Pick up a copy, and prepare to be swept away into Nicola Fuller's terrifying and exotic life.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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