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A time of adventure and freedom and Huxley paints an unforgettable portrait of growing up among the Masai and Kikuyu people discovering both the beauty and the terrors of the jungle and enduring the rugged realities of the pioneer li. Ever get to the end of a book and contemplate flipping back to the first page and starting all over again This is a book whose world I just want to continue living in but like the ending of a book is a world that just doesn t exist any So much of the book though it deals with people trying to start a new frontier life in Africa is really about the ending of things specifically the end of old Europe with the onset of World War 1Elspeth in the last chapter writes about how she realized uite suddenly and with some fright how strangely interconnected all things are in life She blames herself for the death of Kate not because of any direct fault of her own but the indirect responsibility she had in the wounding of a buffalo All of a sudden the rational world she felt so sure of was gone and now replaced with uncertainty One could also uite easily see how people might then turn to superstition and folk magic to explain their place in the universe Charms sacrifices ceremonies all the ways of life for the native Africans don t then seem so strange when we look at it through the lens of our own uncertainty in the scheme of the universeBut this one death and this one series of events is all the while back dropped by the war in Europe Events there of a much larger scale were colliding and would claim the lives of millions of people who were caught up in events they could not foresee or control Ian being the earliest example of a victim to circumstanceThe whole book is filled with the parallels of their lives and that of WW1 the irrigation trenches being filled with water mirror the trenches of the un moving fronts the tribal warfare parallels the conflict between nation states In some ways the book is as much about what happened to the whole world at the beginning of the 20th century as it is about one young girls experience growing up in Africa with her pioneering and liberal thinking parents Elspeth makes a strong case for how the world should behave She always details the solutions that people come up with be it how best to grow coffee in Africa deal with tribal politics or deal with some unusual neighbors she is always looking for a way to make things work And it s no wonder because much of the world was totally breaking down But she never becomes sentimental about her experiences Yes it is a very romantic setting and stunningly beautiful but Elspeth is a realist who leans towards cautious optimism The characters in the book earn all their emotions and there is never any melodrama or silliness here And a lot of how she makes this work is by seeing the world through such a young persons eyes She only ever gets to see and hear snippets of what s going on around her so she like us have to piece so much together This books great strength is that it takes us to that time and place makes us empathize with this little girl and gets us to see the world for what it could be without ever cheating us emotionally This is a brilliant story one of the greatest books I have ever read In fact I place this book right alongside Sergey Aksakov s A Family Chronicle as one of the finest pieces of writing ever published I absolutely adore this novel like nothing else I have ever read

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The Flame Trees of Thika Memories of an African Childhood

In an open cart Elspeth Huxley set off with her parents to travel to Thika in Kenya As pioneering settlers they built a house of grass ate off a damask cloth spread over packing cases and discovered the hard way the world of the Afri. When we were kids we played in a field down the street from our house If memory serves correctly always a joke when it comes to my memory the space was almost entirely undeveloped so there was ample space for us to run and play We rode our bikes down there we chased butterflies we caught bugs for science projects I won t speak for my brothers or the friends I played with but I also spent time down there letting my imagination go absolutely effing wildReading Elspeth Huxley s memoirs of growing up in Kenya reminded me of the land at the bottom of Main Street We certainly had no lions or giant pythons in that field but I encountered plenty of them in my imagination The field was our African wilderness or anything else we wanted it to beElspeth s family moved to British East Africa when she was a little girl The land was almost entirely unsettled when they arrived and she talks about colonialism from the viewpoint of a child Certainly she wasn t involved in the serious adult subject matters but she wasn t entirely blind to what was going on around her either She picked up on uite a bit the smart little whippersnapper that she wasBut she primarily concerned herself with the other aspects of living in Africa She lived in fear that the wild animals would eat her pet She wrote about being stuck in a rainstorm that made her wonder if the Kikuyu tribe was right in believing that storms were the product of an angry godNot unlike Isak Dinesen s Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass the best part of this memoir are Elspeth s detail about the land on which she lived I ve never been particularly drawn to Africa I really don t like the heat but this girl makes me want to go even though I know Kenya of today would be nothing like the Kenya she knew and experiencedAside from Dinesen I also thought of Miles Franklin s My Brilliant Career My Career Goes Bung though Franklin s story not a memoir takes place in Australia instead of Africa yeah welcome to my head this is how I make connectionsA great read and I have her second memoir The Mottled Lizard to read when I m ready which excites me cause I m a dork like that Elspeth s family left Kenya during the war and I m curious to see what her life was like after the war when she returned to AfricaFor myself I have no desire to return to the bottom of Main Street to see what that field is like now Certainly there s a Wal Greens or a Wal Mart or fifteen gas stations in place of the hills and tress and grass that I remember I would like to preserve that memory Sometimes it s just not worth going back

Elspeth Huxley ¼ 5 Read & Download

Can With an extraordinary gift for detail and a keen sense of humor Huxley recalls her childhood on the small farm at a time when Europeans waged their fortunes on a land that was as harsh as it was beautiful For a young girl it was. In 1913 when the author was six years old she and her mother and father went to British East Africa BEA to start a coffee plantation This was nearly 100 years ago when that area was mostly unsettled Her father bought some property sight unseen in the middle of nowhere among the Kikuyu people This book was especially fascinating for me because everything was so incredibly different from modern times The story is very simply told from her very early memories although I suspect she must have consulted some diaries or letters her parents kept The book only covers about a two year period because World War I intervened and people went back to Europe to wait it out I did not want this story to end As I got to the last few pages I found myself longing for a seuel and I was happy to discover that she did write one The Mottled Lizard


10 thoughts on “The Flame Trees of Thika Memories of an African Childhood

  1. says:

    The Flame Trees of Thika Memories of an African Childhood by Elspeth Huxley is an absolutely lovely recollection of childhood as it should be for every child The daughter of two financially strapped adventurous and eternally optimistic parents Elspeth recounts life in Thika in the bush of Kenya where she spent her youth amongst th

  2. says:

    Great stuff Her memoir is from the early years of the Kenya colony — her parents’ new farm was one of the first established in that area and

  3. says:

    When we were kids we played in a field down the street from our house If memory serves correctly always a joke when it come

  4. says:

    I seem to be one of the few readers who didn't love this tale of a young British family trying to start a coffee plantation in British East Africa Kenya in the period 1912 1914 their friendships with the other British colonials and their interactions with the Kikuyu and Masai people who lived nearby or worked for them Actually it completely bored meThere was also something mildly unsettling about the narrator's voice she's writing the memo

  5. says:

    In 1913 when the author was six years old she and her mother and father went to British East Africa BEA to start a coffee plantation This was nearly 100 years ago when that area was mostly unsettled Her father bought some property sight unseen

  6. says:

    Read this several times over the years and also watched the BBC series which I just love Never got around to reviewing the book but recently my sister handed me her copy of the seuel The Mottled Lizard so I figured it was about time Elspeth Huxley just knows how to write It is the beginning of the end of British cultivatio

  7. says:

    Ever get to the end of a book and contemplate flipping back to the first page and starting all over again? This is a book whose world I just want to continue living in but like the ending of a book is a world that just doesn't exist any So mu

  8. says:

    This is meant to be a memoir Unlike other memoirsdiariescorrespondence that some GR readers think are novels this one really is a novel presented as a memoir We are told it covers the years when she was aged five to eight How could a child as young as Elspeth supposedly is during the action hear those detailed

  9. says:

    image error

  10. says:

    A memoir of the author's childhood in Thika a farm area outside Nairobi in colonial Kenya just prior to World War I in 1913 when the author was six years old Her uirky parents traveled from England to Thika to start a coff