Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Story of Survival and Madness, Love and War, Loyalty and Forgiveness. Meet the Author Tonight!

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.

We see Nicola and Tim Fuller in their lavender-colored honeymoon period, when east Africa lies before them with all the promise of its liquid equatorial light, even as the British empire in which they both believe wanes. But in short order, an accumulation of mishaps and tragedies bump up against history until the couple finds themselves in a world they hardly recognize. We follow the Fullers as they hopscotch the continent, running 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.

A story of survival and madness, love and war, loyalty and forgiveness, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is an intimate exploration of the author's family. 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 of Forgetfulness 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.

Fuller will be reading from and signing her book at 7:30 pm tonight at our Historic Lodo Store.

Lisa says:
"This the second memoir about Alexandra Fuller's family’s life in Africa, and it is more about Alexandra’s mother, Nicola Fuller of Central Africa  (as she refers to herself.) We first met Alexandra Fuller's parents and family in Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight - when they lived in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) during the war. It was Alexandra's story of her childhood which was fraught with tragedies, but also, scenes of British family humor, bravery, stubbornness, and love of land with her parents - who are really larger than life.
In Cocktail Hour, Alexandra, now grown with children of her own, tells the story of her mom - who like many, fights bouts of depression, but that doesn't stop her from living an amazing life full of humor, love, excitement, with a bit folly. It's another Alexandra Fuller book - you won't want to put down. I found myself shaking my head as she describes her mom dressing her as 'I Never Promised You a Rose Garden,' in an empty insecticide drum for a neighbor's fancy dress party. Ok, who hasn't had a Halloween costume that seemed like a good idea to your mom at the time - only to find yourself waddling down the road in an ill-fitting silver painted drum/Tin Man costume in the snow. Yes, I think there are scenes that will stir our childhood memories. But there are more scenes of growing up in Africa - that I found myself reading and admiring her parents so much for their courage and stick-to-itiveness, when most would give up entirely.
Nicola Fuller describes her daughter's first book as That Awful Book. I describe both Don't Let's and Cocktail Hour as love stories to her parents and Africa with all its beauty and harshness. I can't imagine what strength and understanding it must have taken for Alexandra to write this, but I thank her for sharing all of her stories with us. What a wonderful, insightful writer."

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