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The Flame Trees of Thika: Memories of an African Childhood (original 1959; edition 1959)

by Elspeth Huxley

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6621114,562 (3.97)77
Member:joyceBl
Title:The Flame Trees of Thika: Memories of an African Childhood
Authors:Elspeth Huxley
Info:Penguin Classics (2000), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Read, Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:memoir, autobiography, Africa

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The Flame Trees of Thika: Memories of an African Childhood by Elspeth Huxley (1959)

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The series was more story-like than the memoir, which was more a series of vingettes, but still very enjoyable and readable. I also reccomend the two following books of memoirs and her various other writings; murder mysteries set in Kenya, a novel of East African colonization from the African viewpoint, and even a story of English village life. She is an interesting writer, not very well known.
  amyem58 | Jul 3, 2014 |
This is a fictionalized autobiography of Elspeth Huxley's childhood years in Kenya immediately prior to WWl. Her parents were British upper class. Her father was a bit of an adventurer, having traveled widely and prospected for gold before choosing this venture--namely carving a coffee plantation from virgin bush in a remote area of Kenya.

Huxley is a beautiful writer leaving us with an intimate portrayal of the time and place. Yes, we do see the warts of British colonialism and paternalistic attitudes toward the Kikuyu and Maori tribes. But we also see love and respect and laughter and vivid portraits of the countryside and wildlife.

I would recommend this book to anyone, but especially to those who have enjoyed other stories of this period of African history, such as [[Beryl Markham]]'s [West With the Night]. In later years, Markham and Huxley knew each other and were in the same social group.

BBC made a seven part miniseries from this book and I would also recommend it highly. Except for the final installment, it followed the book quite closely. It was filmed on location in Kenya. The scenery, wildlife and depiction of the tribes were stunning. ( )
1 vote streamsong | Feb 2, 2013 |
This seemed a little hard to get into, but maybe that was because of my mood rather than the writing, because when I picked it up again I found it beautifully lyrical: I kept wanting to copy sentences out but there were too many. Elspeth Huxley looks back at her childhood in Kenya, near Nairobi, when her parents left England to seek new fortunes on a plantation, in the early 20th century. The young Elspeth is observant, unprejudiced and headstrong, fearless or perhaps unaware of any dangers. She seems to be about 11, hovering between innocence and understanding of relationships that are hinted at but left unspoken. I was quite surprised to learn that the real Elspeth was only five or six when the family went to Kenya, so the memories must be cosmetically enhanced. It is a good book that made me laugh at times, and feel sad for many reasons; I just regret that I never found out the truth about that boomklops; I wonder if Elspeth did. I should mention that this is a very nicely produced hardback from Slightly Foxed, with a ribbon bookmark, creamy paper and just the right size for carrying around in my bag to read on the train. ( )
  overthemoon | Oct 31, 2012 |
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  mulliner | Oct 17, 2009 |
4th prtg. Frontis etching by Kinsey. ( )
  kitchengardenbooks | Jul 9, 2009 |
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To the images of whom Robin and Tilly are reflections, amid the ghosts who sleep at Thika
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We set off in an open cart drawn by four whip-scarred little oxen and piled high with equipment and provisions.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141183780, Paperback)

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 African. 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 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 life.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:54 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A dramatization of the memoirs of Elspeth Huxley, this is the story of a young British girl and her parents journey to the unspoiled wilderness of East Africa in 1913. There they struggle to transform a rugged plot of land into a farm -- and a home.

(summary from another edition)

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