This is an interestingly rich book about small, real lives in big Africa. Fuller captures the continent from the eyes of a white, definitely not rich, farm family around the time of the collapse of colonialism and the rise of strange despotism. There are no apologies for racism, for warmth, for mistakes, for family, for violence, for nature, for politics, for life. She takes you to hot, humid, dusty, rainy, cold Africa, makes you live there, makes you feel hot, humid, dusty, rainy, cold. I lived there; I recognized the feelings she was presenting as soon as I understood her quirky, understatedly complex style.
The picture on the jacket (ruined by Amazon's marketing in the picture of the book on this website) is the best photo I've ever seen on a book. Before I read, I thought it was just a quirky, stylish picture. After I read a few chapters, I could see it lists the style and story exactly. A black-and-white of a scrubby, dirty stone wall, stained, rutted road, littered with unkempt grass and detritus. You can smell the sheep, the lions, the pee, the dampness. A little girl, dressed in a scruffy playsuit, hair discombobulated by play and let drift by a mother with love but other things to accomplish, grins noisily just inside the photograph. The photographer caught perfectly the solipsism, trust, joy and candor of her. She exists as if someone pasted her picture on the picture of the background, but clues inform you the image fits seamlessly. Then you notice that the wall is where she lives, and that her comfort is because she knows where she is.
Ms. Fuller's child lives in Africa. She only has adventures that involve living, not a grand romance. It's just that her family's living is in Africa, not Montana or London. Africa shapes just living into small heroism. It's a small great book.