Flame Trees Of Thika Paperback – 2000
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The Flame Trees of Thika: Memories of an African Childhood (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin)
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Other notable characters included Elspeth's neighbors the beautiful, Lattice and her formal husband, Hereward, the kindly Ian, their house guest, who was in love with Lattice; Juma, their Swahili cook, Sammy their Masai/Kikuyu headman and Njombo, the Kikuju laborer's spokesman.
Huxley has the rare ability to understand and convey the culture and viewpoint of both the European colonial settlers and the Kikuyu and Masai people. The materialistic Europeans were critical of the nomadic Kikuyus who do not aspire to change, tame, possess or improve the countryside. The Kikuya, in turn, were mystified at the white man's sense of property ownership and the concept of theft. For the Kikuyu helping yourself to the possessions of the white man "was no more robbing than to take the honey from wild bees."
At the heart of the story is the beauty and the challenge of life in Africa in the early 20th Century.
It's strongest elements include a deep sensitivity to the travails of animal life up against white hunters and farmers, very full accounts of the Kikuyu people and their rivalries with other Africans and it also paints a vivid portrait of pioneering planters and their servants in the shadow of the Great War.
The vantage of the book is greater than that of Out of Africa by Blixen being a less personal tale. it is a faithful, sometimes harrowing tale culled from an excellent store of memories representing times and scenes gone by. Huxley is not short on romance and tragedy.
This book is an ideal companion to those interested in the British Empire and African anthropology. For naturalists it provides breathtaking accounts of white hunters and their quarry as a retrospective commentary on man's abuse of Africa's wild heritage. Huxley writes quietly, sensitively and impartially providing philosophic insights in a heuristic and magical narrative. Always compelling, this is an important primary text.
My basic quibble is that it is supposedly from the point of view of a seven year old child, but her thoughts and observations are those of an adult. Is this Huxley remembering at age 46, or is this supposed to be what a seven-year old observed?
At one moment we have a child, playing in the yard with chameleons and the next a child who understands the love affairs of adults.
Well, that's the problem with a memoire that tries to be a novel, and fails, I might add.
Most recent customer reviews
What a wonderful book, a wonderful writer, a wonderful world, at least from the child's point of view. Read morePublished on April 22 2003 by Peggy Vincent
I absolutely adore this book. Huxley is one of the all time great writers. Her style is simple, and her stories are endearing and sensitive. Read morePublished on Jan. 14 2002 by Claus Hetting
I saw the TV adaptation several years ago and bought the book in preparation for a trip to Northern Tanzania. Read morePublished on Aug. 30 2001 by FrancesM
I was amazed at the detailed observations and understanding of Elspeth as she arrives and becomes exposed to African life. Read morePublished on July 23 2001