Growing up in colonial East Africa

2011-11-16 00:00

THIS book returns to follow a similar vein to her first best seller, Don’t Let’s Go to The Dogs Tonight . This time, Fuller writes about the life of her mother, Nicola Fuller, who was one of the mesmerising characters in the first book, where the author does not describe her mother in a flattering way. Here, as if to make amends, she tries to explain why her mother was the crazy, mad, alcoholic person who careered through the pages of Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight .

Throughout Cocktail Hour , her mother accuses her (the author) of researching and digging up background to “write another awful book”. It is obvious that being an author and writing about one’s family is a hard thing to do. One treads a fine line between one’s own perceptions and the events as they happened. Fuller tries to understand the events that shaped her mother’s life.

As the story unfolds, it is clear that the woman, who we have come to know as a vivacious and often dramatic person with a streak of eccentricity, is a product of an extremely unconventional upbringing. Born on the Isle of Skye, she was brought out to Kenya with her parents to live in colonial East Africa. Her first friend was a chimpanzee called Stephen Foster, and from there she is shaped by her passion for horses and riding and her artistic temperament. While many people see white colonials as spoilt and arrogant, this book may reveal another side to this strange tribe of people who manage to fall in love with a continent despite the many tragedies that occur.

This is an interesting and entertaining read, and a feather in Fuller’s cap.

• Cocktail Hour is on the 2011 Exclusive Books’ Wish List.

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