If you enjoyed Out of Africa
and West with the Night
, here's another amazing woman's story of her adventurous African life. Rosamond Halsey Carr left her job as a young New York City fashion illustrator in the 1940s to join her hunter-explorer husband in the Belgian Congo; after their divorce, she decided to stay on in neighboring Rwanda as the manager of a flower plantation. For the next 50 years she lived an extraordinary life, witnessing the fall of colonialism, the loss of her friend Dian Fossey, and the relentless clashes between the Hutus and the Tutsis. Although this book includes a poignant insider's account of the events surrounding the horrific 1994 genocide, it also provides a beautiful portrait of the Rwanda that was--and still is. After being evacuated during the genocide, Carr returned to Rwanda and, at age 82, rebuilt her home from the ground up, intent on opening a home for some 100 orphaned children.
Carr's humble tenacity and bold strength animate her historical, cultural, and personal accounts. Arriving in Africa in 1949, she witnesses the traditions of the royal Tutsi dynasty, sails up the Congo to camp in pygmy villages, encounters leopards, mingles with European aristocrats, finds and loses love, and lives through Congo independence and civil war. Her passion for the country and its people makes for a life story that is both tragic and hopeful, and full of interesting details that animate the spirit of Rwanda. --Kathryn True
From Publishers Weekly
Fifty years ago, New Jersey socialite and fashion designer Rosamond Halsey Carr sailed from Brooklyn Harbor with four new cotton dresses, a lifelong supply of cold cream and hopes of injecting passion into her marriage with British big-game hunter Kenneth Carr. Although conjugal bliss eluded her, the hills of central Africa captured her heart, and she passed up safety, security and marriage with a later love to stay in Rwanda. Carr saw at close handAlong before the genocide of 1994Athe warfare between Hutu and Tutsi in 1959, violence spilling over from the Congo during the 1960s and independence for RwandaAon four days' noticeAin 1962. Rich in details about elephants, marriage customs and the author's flower plantation, this charming memoir transports readers to the land where Dian Fossey (whom Carr knew and profiles here) studied her gorillas. The horror of 1994 forced Carr off her plantation and out of the country for a few months, but she is now back, running an orphanage for victims' children she started in an old barn. By today's confessional standards, Carr, who is 86, is reticent about her personal life. Literary flourishes are few here; rather, along with her niece, Halsey, she writes simply and evocatively, entertaining readers with vignettes about her European, African and American acquaintances. Money did not come easily to Carr, but out of Africa has come an abundance of spirit. First serial to Vogue.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
This is an excellent book. Carr, then a young New York fashion illustrator, moved to Africa with her hunter husband in 1954. After their divorce, she took a job as a plantation manager and eventually became a plantation ownerAthe last foreign owner in Rwanda. In her 45 years in the Congo and Rwanda, she saw the fight for independence and then the rise of ethnic unrest and genocidal conflict in the 1990s. She now runs an orphanage on her plantation. Carr speaks with personal knowledge of both rulers and locals, including Dian Fossey, a neighbor and friend. Her brief account of ethnic and national differences can certainly be understood by the average reader. Those frustrated by Philip Gourevitch's We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families (LJ 9/1/98) may find this book by a resident Rwandan more interesting. Those who enjoy travel, history, biography, women's studies, or just a fascinating read will want it as well.AJulie Still, Rutgers Univ., Camden, NJ
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Carr has lived an extraordinary life. And, she still does; at the age of 86, she runs an orphanage in Rwanda, taking in children who have lost their families in the 1994 war between the Hutus and the Tutsis that tore the country apart. For 50 years, Rwanda has been Carr's home, where she managed and eventually bought a flower plantation. While fellow American and European landowners fled the country during Rwanda's war of Independence in 1959, Carr stayed, refusing to leave her beloved home and country. Carr did flee during Rwanda's brutal 1994 civil war, but only when Belgian UN soldiers were on her doorstep, ordering her out of the country. Some might think of her determination as foolish, because no one was safe anywhere in Rwanda at that time; but this is "a love affair between a woman and a country," a woman who has faced war, bankruptcy, heartache, and stampeding elephants. She has also experienced firsthand the rich culture of the Rwandans and their beautiful and lush countryside. Carr and her niece Ann Howard Halsey elegantly and objectively write of the royal Rwandan ceremonies, the weddings and tribal dances, as well as Carr's associations with European diplomats and ambassadors and the "high society" of wealthy landowners. Her descriptions of the day-to-day life at the plantation allow the reader to learn about the lives of the Hutus that worked for her and the neighboring Tutsis whose cattle grazed close by. Serial rights sold to Vogue
. Michelle Kaske
From Kirkus Reviews
An intriguing memoir of a European woman plantation owner in Rwanda over the past half-century, written with grace and self-assurance by Carr, with help from her niece. Carr moved to the then Belgian Congo in 1949 in an attempt to salvage her marriage to an English explorer and big game hunter. That particular relationship failed to pan out, but her lifelong liaison with Africa was kindled. She and her husband had stumbled upon the gorgeous landscape that lay along the Rwanda-Congo border, at the time under a benign Belgian territorial mandate, but soon to be a hotbed of contentions: independence struggles, efforts to save the last habitat of the mountain gorilla, genocidal ethnic fighting. She lands first in the Congo, where she runs a pyrethrum (a natural insecticide) plantation, and then moves away from her husband to a similar if more spectacularly situated plantation in Rwanda. Carr is a keen observer, adept at both landscape descriptionand this is a landscape that barks for hyperbole, and Carrs delineations are vivid but controlledand summarizing historical moments (``the 1950s in Rwanda were the waning years of a great kingdom . . . florid and baroque''). She appreciates the various shades of gray that color her region's circumstances: she provides a neat, crisp summation of Hutu-Tutsi enmity and its cruel consequences over their 400-year association, and she maps Belgian colonial desires in the Congo and Rwanda and Burundi. She exudes common sense and integrity in matters of politics and business (she is invariably on the brink), then softens the story by lacing it with personal relationships (including a rocky but intense one with Dian Fossey) and life at her compound, where bougainvillea twine with the climbing roses, crested cranes rule the sky, elephants are garden pests, and an active volcano lights the night horizon. A quiet and elegant beauty of a memoir, with a dignity that is at once antique and enviable. (First serial to Vogue) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
"Reading 'Land of a Thousand Hills' is like sitting down for a long chat with a good friend who's been away-it's satisfying conversation well worth waiting for." -- Cleveland Plain Dealer, December 30, 1999
Another commendable book, itself possessed of great spirit, is Land of a Thousand Hills: My Life in Rwanda by Rosamond Halsey Carr with Ann Howard Halsey. This is by turns informative, revealing, disturbing. Carr, now in her mid-80's, has spent over five decades in this African country, having arrived as a young bride (her husband was a noted huntsman and later entrepreneur). The author describes the challenges and struggles navigating her new world, after leaving family and a fashion career behind, and limns in fascinating detail the geography and personality of what has become the home she loves. . . .A remarkable woman and a powerful story. This book offers the closest, and probably most personal, perspective many of us are ever likely to get on the imperiled "land of a thousand hills." -- America, September 18, 1999
Rosamond Carr writes from what once was her flower plantation, giving a breathtaking view of her beloved Rwanda and its people, moving the reader from a pastoral paradise to brutal genocide. . . .Carr thoughtfully examines the bliss and turmoil of life near the Rwandan/Congo border for over 50 tumultuous years. From her "picturesque paradise" eight miles from the nearest neighbor, she takes us through glorious years of hobnobbing with European colonists in "privilege and complacency." Finally, we are exposed to the unthinkable slaughter of the 1990s. . . .This amazing life journey winds up with Carr's dedication to the orphanage she recently established for Rwandan children. Having had no children of her own, she now feels "like the woman who lived in a shoe.... blessed with 92." Names, famous and infamous, stream through the pages, as does the dazzling pageantry of African dynasties and local dance spectacles. The splendor that was Africa is balanced with her daily interdependence on loyal Hutu and Tutsi neighbors and farm workers. The author became closely acquainted with Dian Fossey and her struggles to save the gorillas, relating her own encounter with a young male in his native habitat who leapt from a tree into her arms. She is also confronted with marauding elephants and stalking leopards, while embracing pet antelopes in her home. The ultimate value of this memoir, beyond the vivid descriptions of landscape and people, comes from the clear explanations of Rwandan history, from Belgian colonial rule through independence in 1962 and the successful African government that followed. Of course, the enmity between Hutu and Tutsi tribes, always struggling for supremacy, finally erupted into catastrophe. This decade, the hatred that had been fomenting for 400 years burst into the flames that have destroyed a magnificent country, eliminating half of its population and almost all infrastructure. Heartbroken, Carr carefully chronicles the riveting tragedy as it occurred, so that the reader at last comprehends the incomprehensible. . . . When faced in her own garden with soldiers brandishing weapons on their genocidal hunt, she exclaimed, "You don't mind killing old women. If you want to kill someone, here I am. Kill me!" With the help of her niece, Ann Howard Halsey, the author has articulated a new world for those who have not experienced the paradox that is Africa. Swinging from celestial bliss to rampant violence, readers, along with visitors and settlers, will continue to be captivated. -- Christian Science Monitor, September 2,1999
About the Author
Rosamond Halsey Carr, at eighty-six years old, is the last of the foreign plantation owners in Rwanda, where she now runs a children's orphanage. She has been featured on television programs from "The Today Show" to CNN to the BBC. Ann Howard Halsey, Carr's niece, traveled to Rwanda to work extensively with her aunt on this memoir. She lives in Downington, Pennsylvania.
C. M. Herbert skillfully conveys Rosamond Halsey Carr's panoramic view of Rwanda and its recent tragic history. The early chapters--describing the beauty of Africa; the author's marriage, work, and love for her Rwandan neighbors; and her friendship with naturalist Dian Fosse--have an easygoing quality. But the story develops an emotional crescendo as it reaches the political turmoil and genocide in Rwanda. Herbert's natural and empathetic delivery create the impression that the author herself is speaking. This sense of impromptu speech is enhanced by Herbert's unerring emphasis on just the right word or phrase. Some other narrators seem not to know where a sentence is heading until it has arrived. K.C. © AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.