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Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness

( 55 )

Overview

In this sequel to Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller returns to Africa and the story of her unforgettable family.

In Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness Alexandra Fuller braids a multilayered narrative around the perfectly lit, Happy Valley-era Africa of her mother's childhood; the boiled cabbage grimness of her father's English childhood; and the darker, civil war- torn Africa of her own childhood. At its heart, this is the story of Fuller's mother, ...

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Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness

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Overview

In this sequel to Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller returns to Africa and the story of her unforgettable family.

In Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness Alexandra Fuller braids a multilayered narrative around the perfectly lit, Happy Valley-era Africa of her mother's childhood; the boiled cabbage grimness of her father's English childhood; and the darker, civil war- torn Africa of her own childhood. At its heart, this is the story of Fuller's mother, Nicola. Born on the Scottish Isle of Skye and raised in Kenya, Nicola 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 interviewed her mother at length and has captured her inimitable voice with remarkable precision. Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is as funny, terrifying, exotic, and unselfconscious as Nicola herself.

We see Nicola and Tim Fuller in their lavender-colored honeymoon period, when east Africa lies before them with all the promise of its liquid equatorial light, even as the British empire in which they both believe wanes. But in short order, an accumulation of mishaps and tragedies bump up against history until the couple finds themselves in a world they hardly recognize. We follow the Fullers as they hopscotch the continent, running 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.

A story of survival and madness, love and war, loyalty and forgiveness, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is an intimate exploration of the author's family. 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 of Forgetfulness 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
If you loved Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight—and I certainly did—you'll want to bury yourself in this sequel. Fuller here focuses more fully on her mother, Nicola, who was born on the Isle of Skye but raised in Kenya and was passionately devoted to family, land, and her belief in the goodness of animals. Then came both personal tragedy and continental upheaval, as Nicola and husband Tim found themselves constantly on the run with their old world collapsing and a new world looming. Now they've found some peace sitting under their Tree of Forgetfulness, a tradition taken from the locals, who gather under such a tree when disputes are to be settled. Everything that made Dogs wonderful reading seems to be here, too: the deep comprehension of sorrow, certainly, but also the dead-on portraits, leavening wit, and, finally, generosity. Get the reading group guide and go to town.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594135453
  • Publisher: Gale Cengage Learning
  • Publication date: 6/26/2012
  • Edition description: Large Print Edition
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Alexandra Fuller
Alexandra Fuller was born in England in 1969. In 1972, she moved with her family to a farm in southern Africa. She lived in Africa until her midtwenties.

Good To Know

In our interview with Fuller, she shared some fascinating facts about herself:

"There isn't a moment that I am not thinking about Africa. I am either thinking about it in relation to what I am writing at that time, or I am thinking about it in relations to where I am geographically (I am writing this at my desk in my office overlooking the Tetons, which could not be further, you might argue, from Zambia. Yet, I have been thinking all morning that the cry of an angry great blue heron -- they are nesting in the aspens at the end of our property -- sound like Chacma baboons)."

"The best way for me to evoke the same sense of place and the same smells and the same space of Africa is when I am out riding. I have a rather naughty little Arab mare, whom I accompany (it would be an exaggeration to claim that I "ride" her) into the mountains almost every day when the snow is clear. Something about being away from people, alone with a horse and a dog, fills me with an intense sense of joy and well-being, and I always return from these excursions inspired (if not to write, then to be a better mother, or to cook something fabulous, or to do the laundry)."

"I have come to the conclusion that I can only write about something if I have actually smelled it for myself. I have no idea what this says about me, but I think it's a fact of my work. I also cannot think of something without immediately evoking its smell (for example, if I think of my father, I think of the smell of cigarette smoke and the bitter scent of his sweat -- he has never once worn deodorant, so his smell is very organic and wonderfully his -- and of the faint aroma of tea and engine oil he exudes). Once, in France, a particularly thorough journalist (he had 50 questions for me!) said, somewhat accusingly, 'You have written here in your book' (it was Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight) 'about the smell of frog sperm. What exactly does frog sperm smell of?' And without hesitating for a moment, I replied, 'Cut turnips,' which I think surprised both of us."

"I love to write, and I dislike overly long interviews."

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    1. Hometown:
      Wilson, Wyoming
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 29, 1969
    2. Place of Birth:
      Glossop, Derbyshire, England
    1. Education:
      B. A., Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada, 1992

Table of Contents

Cast of Main Characters 9

Part 1 Nicola Fuller of Central Africa Learns to Fly 17

Nicola Huntingford Is Born 30

Nicola Fuller and the Fancy Dress Parties 49

Roger Huntingford's War 72

Nicola Huntingford Learns to Ride 87

Nicola Fuller of Central Africa Goes to Her High School Reunion 104

Nicola Huntingford, the Afrikaner and the Perfect Horse 124

Nicola Huntingford and the Mau Mau 143

Part 2 Tim Fuller of No Fixed Abode 167

Nicola Fuller and the Perfect House 186

Nicola Fuller in Rhodesia: Round One 205

Nicola Fuller in England 224

Nicola Fuller in Rhodesia: Round Two 238

Olivia 261

Nicola Fuller and the End of Rhodesia 280

Part 3 Nicola Fuller of Central Africa and the Tree of Forgetfulness 301

Nicola Fuller of Central Africa at Home 327

Acknowledgments 341

Appendix: Nicola Fuller of Central Africa: The Soundtrack 345

Glossary: A Guide to Unusual or Foreign Words and Phrases 347

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 55 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(26)

4 Star

(5)

3 Star

(18)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 55 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 23, 2011

    Wonderful old school storytelling!

    An amazing account of coming of age in Africa. The captivating language has the effect of making you feel as if you're one of the family, sitting under the tree, and listening to the stories in person. Upon finishing the book I found myself with the awesome feeling that I actually knew the land and its people. Fantastic read, highly recommended.

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2011

    Entertaining

    Did not enjoy this book as much as the first: Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight. And it helps if you have read the first book. But still entertaining.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 19, 2012

    Good

    I thought this book was a interesting read, not too captivating though. I felt like it was all over the place. Based on other reviews I should have read the previous book first. It was good enough that I'd give another of her books a read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 30, 2011

    If you dream of Africa, read this!

    It will help to have read Alexandra Fuller's "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight" before reading her "Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness" because the second book helps you understand some of the wonderful, sometimes frightening, craziness of her life growing up in Africa.
    In any case, if you have dreamed of living in Africa - or any place that seems out of reach - both of these books will enthrall you. They may take away some of the magic of the place, but they show life as it was - real and threatening and unlike any growing-up most of us have enjoyed.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 14, 2011

    Wonderful

    Read "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight" and liked it very much. But this book created a such a clear picture of the author's mother that I felt her in the room with me. Wonderfully written and also very interesting insight into her parent's lives in Africa.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2011

    Loved her writing style

    As soon as I finished the book I immediately bought another one she wrote.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 3, 2011

    Thoroughly entertaining!

    I enjoyed Alexandra Fuller's autobiography of her African Childhood; this sequel is even better. The stories about her mother are so entertaining, and at the same time frequently extremely poignant. I found myself laughing through tears at times. And craving a cocktail!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2011

    Recommended.

    It is a good book that brings you a good feeling of Life in Africa.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 27, 2011

    Good read

    Good but not great.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2012

    Excellent read!

    This book is laugh out loud funny alternating with deeply moving and intriguing. I loved the book from the start and found myself looking for other works written by this talented author.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 17, 2011

    Brutally honest as well as fantastic

    Though its setting in central and east Africa certainly sets the mood, this is really a story of a daughter's love and appreciation of her parents. How Alexandra elects to cover certain gut wrenching moments - via candor, courage and a will to go on - helps make the book both piognant and memorable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2011

    Really good - but I loved "Don't Let's Go" better.

    The author is a wonderful storyteller. I prefer her prior memoir (Don't Let's Go...) over this one simply because this on jumps around frequently in time and place, so it reads more like short stories. Still, when I read her work, it makes me want to move abroad and raise my own kids in such a magical place. Despite the challenges and huge losses, I can't help but be envious of the author's childhood adventures. A must read. Highly recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2011

    Highly recommend

    I was transported to colonial Africa for a few days. I like Fuller's style of writing and her sense of humor. I found the book to be very entertaining.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2011

    highly recommend

    A wonderful memoir with an equally wonderful cast of characters. A great finish to Lets not go to the dogs tonight. It's so refreshing to read a memoir with laugh out loud moments rather than painful chilhood abuse. Really well written.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A must read!

    An excellent writer. The read places you right their with her. Couldn't put it down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2013

    Fuller¿s story is a biography of her mother, Nicole of Central A

    Fuller’s story is a biography of her mother, Nicole of Central Africa (as she liked to be called), and transports you to an entirely foreign place and time for most of us, South Africa.  Along with Nicole’s memories, the author relates her own memories of her childhood, with the theme of family blood ties to both ancestral lands in Scotland, as well as her adopted homeland, Africa.  The child was raised by her adventuresome, strange and sometimes terrifying parents, and her book tells stories funny and frightening, always with the theme of a mother tied by heart and soul, to the land where she was born and lived, South Africa.  Behind the child’s own memories of her childhood, she learns the  memories of Nicole, of  the life of Nicole’s parents and other forebears who, along with many generations of British, are part of the history of colonial South Africa; about the thousands of British people who farmed and occupied lands there.  Nicole’s earliest memories, while surely embellished and not necessarily factual, are precious to her; those legends of her family’s warlike Scottish clan convince us of her claim to be one million percent Scottish, born on the Scottish Isle of Skye.  The child interviewing the mother becomes not only an amazing life story of the parent, but is also about the child and how that child came to truly know her mother.  Nicole was a very real character, with a heart and mind unlike any other, and she was always drawn to that “perfect equatorial light.” I would have liked to meet her, sticky drink in hand, under that tree of forgetfulness.  

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2013

    If you are visiting Africa , this is an interesting read!

    I read this while on a trip to South Africa and Zimbawe. It gave an insight on living in an adventuresome time and place. I truly enjoyed it.

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  • Posted January 25, 2013

    Exceedingly delightful

    I adored this book The characters set up camp and live in Your heart.Rare.is a book that causes me to laugh out loud .Even the second time I read it.The author's skill at description and wit are top notch. As soon as I read the final page I bought a copy.for my.daughter and with great delight read it over again It is that good!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2011

    What's this?

    You may have charged me for this book, but I did not order it. Nor did I read it.

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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