x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness: labouring love

Alexandra Fuller recounts her family's history across the African continent in poignant and hilarious anecdotes and additive prose.

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
Alexandra Fuller
The Penguin Press
Dh112
Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness Alexandra Fuller The Penguin Press Dh112

Nicola Fuller (“of Central Africa”, as she likes to call herself) featured prominently in Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, her daughter Alexandra’s lyrical 2002 memoir of growing up in a poor white farming family in Malawi, Rhodesia and Zambia.

Here, Nicola stars once more in this pointillist portrait of a woman whose love of the African land was repaid by civil war, drought, the deaths of children, depression and something close to madness.

She and Tim, Alexandra’s father, met in Africa. Nicola, born in Scotland, had grown up in Kenya, though not in the aristocratic, decadent and notorious Happy Valley set. When Kenya became independent in the 1960s, the family moved to what was then Rhodesia, endured civil war, but finally grew reconciled to majority rule. Nicola and Tim now live on their “fish and banana farm” in Zambia.

From scraps of family history, anecdotes both poignant or hilarious, old family photos and empathetic, addictive prose, Alexandra weaves a candid loving portrait of a woman and her times.