In this tour-de-force sequel to Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller returns to Africa with the story of her unforgettable family.
In Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness Alexandra Fuller braids a multi-layered narrative around the Happy Valley-era Africa of her mother's childhood; the grimness of her father's English childhood; and the darker, civil war-torn Africa of her own childhood. Born on the Scottish Isle of Skye and raised in Kenya, Nicola Fuller holds dear the kinds of values most likely to get you hurt or killed in Africa: loyalty to blood, passion for land and a holy belief in the restorative power of all animals.
Fuller captures her mother's distinctive voice with remarkable precision, rendering a life story that is as funny, terrifying, exotic and unselfconscious as Nicola herself. We see Nicola and Tim Fuller in their honeymoon period, when East Africa lies before them with all the promise of its liquid equatorial light, even as the British Empire wanes. But in short order, an accumulation of mishaps and tragedies bump up against history until the couple find themselves in a world they hardly recognize. We follow the Fullers as they run from war and unspeakable heartbreak, from Kenya to Rhodesia to Zambia, even returning to England briefly. But just when it seems that Nicola has been broken entirely by Africa, it is the African earth itself that revives her.
In the end we find Nicola and Tim at a coffee table under their Tree of Forgetfulness on the banana and fish farm where they plan to spend their final days. In local custom, the Tree is where villagers meet to resolve disputes--and it is here that the Fullers at last find an African kind of peace. Following the ghosts and dreams of memory, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is Alexandra Fuller at her very best.