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Leaving Before the Rains Come
     

Leaving Before the Rains Come

4.1 10
by Alexandra Fuller
 

See All Formats & Editions

New York Times Bestseller

"One of the gutsiest memoirs I've ever read. And the writing--oh my god the writing." --Entertainment Weekly


A child of the Rhodesian wars and daughter of two deeply complicated parents, Alexandra Fuller is no stranger to pain. But the disintegration of Fuller’s own marriage leaves her

Overview

New York Times Bestseller

"One of the gutsiest memoirs I've ever read. And the writing--oh my god the writing." --Entertainment Weekly


A child of the Rhodesian wars and daughter of two deeply complicated parents, Alexandra Fuller is no stranger to pain. But the disintegration of Fuller’s own marriage leaves her shattered. Looking to pick up the pieces of her life, she finally confronts the tough questions about her past, about the American man she married, and about the family she left behind in Africa. A breathtaking achievement, Leaving Before the Rains Come is a memoir of such grace and intelligence, filled with such wit and courage, that it could only have been written by Alexandra Fuller.

Leaving Before the Rains Come begins with the dreadful first years of the American financial crisis when Fuller’s delicate balance—between American pragmatism and African fatalism, the linchpin of her unorthodox marriage—irrevocably fails. Recalling her unusual courtship in Zambia—elephant attacks on the first date, sick with malaria on the wedding day—Fuller struggles to understand her younger self as she overcomes her current misfortunes. Fuller soon realizes what is missing from her life is something that was always there: the brash and uncompromising ways of her father, the man who warned his daughter that "the problem with most people is that they want to be alive for as long as possible without having any idea whatsoever how to live." Fuller’s father—"Tim Fuller of No Fixed Abode" as he first introduced himself to his future wife—was a man who regretted nothing and wanted less, even after fighting harder and losing more than most men could bear.

Leaving Before the Rains Come showcases Fuller at the peak of her abilities, threading panoramic vistas with her deepest revelations as a fully grown woman and mother. Fuller reveals how, after spending a lifetime fearfully waiting for someone to show up and save her, she discovered that, in the end, we all simply have to save ourselves.

An unforgettable book, Leaving Before the Rains Come is a story of sorrow grounded in the tragic grandeur and rueful joy only to be found in Fuller’s Africa.


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Michiko Kakutani
…Ms. Fuller writes with ferocity and precision, and she turns the story of her marriage and its disintegration into a resonant parable about a couple's mismatched views of the world. Her fatalistic outlook, shaped by the chaos of Africa and her parents's reckless approach to life, and his American belief in preparedness and reason. Her penchant for living at the extremes…and his levelheaded embrace of "the middle"…the most vivid scenes in this book deal not with [Fuller's] marriage or life in the United States but with her depictions of her parents and the life they shared in Africa. While her unstable, self-dramatizing mother was the focus of Cocktail Hour, her father—at once stoic and reckless, ascetic and self-indulgent—is the colossus who bestrides this volume, and it's his matter-of-fact approach to life…that provides his daughter with a philosophical anchor.
Publishers Weekly
11/17/2014
Thinking back to 1994, when the African-raised Fuller (Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness), her American husband, and their infant daughter left their cottage in Zimbabwe for a life in the mountains of Idaho and Wyoming, she writes, “Our marriage wasn’t going to be about nearly dying, and violent beauty, and unpredictability... sensible decisions, college funds, mortgages, and car payments.” In her newest memoir, Fuller insightfully explores the contrasts between the different landscapes and their corresponding mind-sets, as well as between the safe investment she intended with her marriage and the messy, isolating reality of where the relationship ended. As always, when Fuller describes the African farms of her childhood, her prose vibrates with life and death and dry British sensibility. Equally sharp are her observations about American life and its all-consuming pursuit of convenience and comfort. However, this book also attempts to tackle territory for more familiar to her Western audience—a sad, drawn-out divorce complicated by three adored children and piles of debt. Understandably, the utter banality of the day-to-day proves more difficult for Fuller to enliven with her signature punch. Nonetheless, the rich narration of Fuller’s upbringing, sensibility, and loneliness make clear that she remains one of the most gifted and important memoirists of our time. Agent: Melanie Jackson, Melanie Jackson Agency. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
Praise for LEAVING BEFORE THE RAINS COME

Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
“Ms. Fuller writes with ferocity and precision, and she turns the story of her marriage and its disintegration into a resonant parable about a couple’s mismatched views of the world.” 

Entertainment Weekly
(Grade: A): 

I've loved Alexandra Fuller's other books, particularly Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, a rich, marvelous memoir brimming with details of her romantic Rhodesian upbringing, and Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, which traced her mother's history. But Leaving Before the Rains Come, the story of her crumbling marriage, is even better than those two books, one of the gutsiest memoirs I've ever read. And the writing—oh my God, the writing. It's more than a little daunting to review a book so gorgeously wrought that you stop, time and again, just to marvel at the language."

People Magazine:  
 
“After writing unforgettable memoirs about her charmingly eccentric African upbringing, Fuller chronicles the doomed marriage that turned her into a quasi-American.  This gorgeously written march toward divorce is a doozy; She sought a tame, stable life and then fought it off like a caged (and crazed) lioness.” 

New York Times Book Review:

“Fuller is far from depleted: This book perhaps marks the beginning of her journey toward an unassailable possession of mind, and toward a new kind of freedom.” 

Seattle PI

 “The rawness and beauty of Africa, a country most only come close to in the news, comes to life in the pages of Fuller's words.” 

Washington Post
“Fuller unravels her feelings in an exquisite meditation on what it means to be alone — on the courage it can inspire, as well as the sometimes undeniable sense of sorrow. Here the fear arises again, but this time she takes it in her hand and smartly wraps it in nothing — no pretty paper, no apologies.” 
 
Dallas Morning News
“Often wildly funny, Leaving Before the Rains Come tells the bittersweet story of Bobo and Charlie’s marriage…She is a vivid storyteller, trained in the art by her colorful mother and laconic father…. [Fuller] excels at re-creating her African background and bringing her family back to life in an endlessly entertaining way.” 
 
Economist
“On the surface, it is the story of the end of a marriage. It is not, however, a divorce memoir, nor is there much of the misery about it. Instead, Ms Fuller has stitched together a patchwork of anecdotes and emotions spanning two continents—the Africa of her early years and the America of her adult life—and many generations of variously mad and sad ancestors in an attempt to make sense of it all. Her writing is astoundingly good; she loops forwards and backwards in time and place, but there is not a spare word in the book. Every story earns its right to be there.” 
 
Boston Globe
“This clear-eyed chronicle is perhaps one of the best memoirs ever written about divorce.”
   
CityWeekly
“Honest insights to some of these questions shine brilliantly throughout Fuller’s characteristically poetic, often humorous writing about the pain of divorce… If there were a guide to self-care in the wake of divorce, this book is it.” 

Booklist (
starred review)

“Powerful, raw, and painful, Fuller’s writing is so immediate, so vivid that whether she’s describing the beauty of Zambia or the harrowing hours following a devastating accident, she leaves the reader breathless. Another not-to-be-missed entry from the gifted Fuller.”  

Publishers Weekly
“The rich narration of Fuller’s upbringing, sensibility, and loneliness make clear that she remains one of the most gifted and important memoirists of our time.” 

Kirkus
“Fuller’s talent as a storyteller makes this memoir sing.” 

Praise for COCKTAIL HOUR UNDER THE TREE OF FORGETFULNESS

Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Electrifying…Writing in shimmering, musical prose… Ms. Fuller manages the difficult feat of writing about her mother and father with love and understanding, while at the same time conveying the terrible human costs of the colonialism they supported… Although Ms. Fuller would move to America with her husband in 1994, her own love for Africa reverberates throughout these pages, making the beauty and hazards of that land searingly real for the reader.”

The Washington Post: 
“Ten years after publishing Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, Alexandra (Bobo) Fuller treats us in this wonderful book to the inside scoop on her glamorous, tragic, indomitable mother…Bobo skillfully weaves together the story of her romantic, doomed family against the background of her mother’s remembered childhood.”

Cleveland Plain-Dealer: 
“Another stunner… The writer’s finesse at handling the element of time is brilliant, as she interweaves near-present-day incidents with stories set in the past. Both are equally vivid… With Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness Alexandra Fuller, master memoirist, brings her readers new pleasure. Her mum should be pleased.”

Praise for DON’T LET’S GO TO THE DOGS TONIGHT

Newsweek
“This is not a book you read just once, but a tale of terrible beauty to get lost in over and over.” 

The New Yorker
“By turns mischievous and openhearted, earthy and soaring . . . hair-raising, horrific, and thrilling.”

People
“Vivid, insightful and sly…Bottom line: Out of Africa, brilliantly.”

Washington Post
Insightful…Zelizer briskly dispels nostalgia for a time when politics were supposedly easier, asserting that 'this period of liberalism was much more fragile, contested, and transitory than we have usually remembered.'…[Zelizer's] fundamental point is that it's always a struggle to enact bold legislation, which becomes possible in historical moments created by much broader forces than the political genius of a few individuals. 'Only if we understand how political landscapes change and can be changed,' he writes, 'will we ever have a chance of breaking the current gridlock in Washington.' His intelligent, informative book certainly contributes to that understanding.
Entertainment Weekly
I've loved Alexandra Fuller's other books, particularly Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, a rich, marvelous memoir brimming with details of her romantic Rhodesian upbringing, and Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, which traced her mother's history. But Leaving Before the Rains Come, the story of her crumbling marriage, is even better than those two books, one of the gutsiest memoirs I've ever read. And the writing—oh my God, the writing. It's more than a little daunting to review a book so gorgeously wrought that you stop, time and again, just to marvel at the language—
Library Journal
08/01/2014
In books like her award-winning debut, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Fuller gives us an indelible portrait of Africa as it has defined her personal life. Here she continues in that vein, detailing the breakup of her marriage to an American she met in Zambia, where he ran a rafting business.

Kirkus Reviews
2014-10-15
Fuller (Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, 2012, etc.) resumes her memories of growing up in Africa in this wry, forthright and captivating memoir.This time, the focus is on the slow unraveling of her marriage to a man she thought would save her from her family's madness and chaos. Except for her father's insistence that his children bathe and dress formally for dinner—a gesture toward discipline that emerged nowhere else—Fuller's childhood was as wild as the Zambian landscape. Her father made "absolute, capricious, and patriarchal" rules. Boredom, he announced, was "the worst possible sin." Despite, or perhaps because of, his idiosyncrasies and contradictions, the author idolized him. Her mother, with a family history of mental instability, often succumbed to "long, solo voyages into her dark, grief-disturbed interior," fueled by alcohol. Resembling her physically, Fuller feared that along with "all that Scottish passion," she might inherit madness, as well: "how could I have skipped the place where her ingenuity and passion sat too close to insanity on the spiraling legacy of heritage?" Unsurprisingly, she married an adventurous, dependable man who she thought would provide stability and order. Her husband "was the perfect rescuer," she writes, "and I the most relieved and grateful rescue victim." After a few years in Africa, they moved to America, where living was easier (dependable electricity and running water, for example), unthreatened by political uprisings or rampaging elephants. They had children, but financial pressures, especially after 2008, and her own loneliness gradually took a toll: "Ours had contracted into a grocery-list relationship—finances, children, housekeeping." To reclaim her life, she insisted on divorce. Although her batty and unhinged relatives emerge more vividly than her taciturn husband, Fuller's talent as a storyteller makes this memoir sing.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780698145610
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/22/2015
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
120,925
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

***The following excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof***

Copyright © 2014 Alexandra Fuller

Dad says he’s going to die next week,” Vanessa said. The phone line from Zambia was good for once. No echoing, no hopping, no static. Still, I felt the distancing power of the whole of the Atlantic Ocean between us.

“Say that again,” I said.

“Dad,” repeated Vanessa loudly and slowly, as if she were an Englishwoman-on-vacation in the tropics. “He says he’s not going to bat some other chap’s innings. He says it’s not cricket.” I heard her light a cigarette: the scrape and hiss of a match; the singe of burning tobacco; the capacious inhale. I recognized we were in danger of doing things on Vanessa’s indolent schedule. She would be there south of the equator cultivating nonchalance. I would be here north of it conscious of time-lapsing deadlines.

“Why?” I asked. “Of what?”

“The Bible,” Vanessa said, calmly exhaling.

“Oh,” I said. “Well, no one in their right mind takes the Bible literally.”

 “I do,” Vanessa said.

“Exactly,” I triumphed.

I pictured Vanessa at the picnic table on her veranda, a generous helping of South African white wine in front of her. Mosquitoes would be whining around her ankles poisonously. She’d be wiping sweat off her nose, pushing panting dogs away from her lap. I could also hear the rainy-?season chorus of Southern Hemisphere woodland-?living birds in the background. The tyranny of a Heuglin’s robin, some chattering masked weavers, and a Sombre bulbul shouting over and over, “Willie! Come out and fight! Willie! Come out and fight! Scaaared.”

Meanwhile the austerity of winter was still hanging on here. Outside my office window, there were tiny beams of frozen mud showing through tall snowbanks. The only birds I could see were an industrious banditry of black-?capped chickadees at the suet feeder. They seemed robustly ascetic little creatures, like tiny chattering monks. I’d read they are able to lower their body temperature by up to a dozen degrees on cold winter nights to conserve energy. Torpor was the word the bird books used. Hummingbirds supposedly did the same thing, but they also had to eat sixty times their body weight a day just to stay alive, at least according to a fragment of a poem by Charles Wright I kept above my computer. “Now that’s a life on the edge,” the fragment concludes.

“I have to go,” I said.

But Vanessa had begun to expand on her vision for Dad’s funeral arrangements and she was in full voice now. Should there be an old Land Rover or a donkey cart for a hearse? And was that Polish priest from Old Mkushi still alive, the one who had been at my wedding? Because he had lived in

the bush long enough not to blink if we asked him to have the service under a baobab tree instead of in a church, right? And perhaps we could get people from the villages to make a choir. “There are heaps of those Apostles all over the place,” Vanessa pointed out. “But do they sing, or do they just sit around draped in white bedsheets, moaning?”

I said I didn’t know, but I’d never forget the time Mum got in a dustup with the Apostle who had moved onto the edge of the farm with his several wives and his scores of children and whose vegetable plot had strayed onto her overflowing pet cemetery. Mum had yelled obscenities, planted her walking stick in the soil, and declared turf war. In return, the Apostle had thrown rocks at Mum’s surviving dogs, brandished his staff, and recited bellicose passages from the Old Testament. “An apoplectic apostolic,” Mum had reported with relish, although her neck had been out for weeks after the Apostle shook her, “just like Jack Russell with a rat.”

Vanessa took another considered drag off her cigarette. “Oh right,” she said. “I’d forgotten about that. Maybe Catholics might be better after all. They’ll know proper hymns. Plus Catholics have wine at intermission, don’t they? And Mum doesn’t have a history of battling them, does she?”

“Not yet,” I said.

“And what about entertainment for afterwards?” Vanessa asked. “People will have driven for days. They’ll be expecting a thrash. It’ll have to be a huge party from beginning to end, with a calypso band, Harry Belafonte, and buckets of rum punch. Perhaps we could organize boat races on the Zambezi in dugout canoes. That would be groovy. And what about a greasy pole over one of Mum’s fishponds for the especially inebriated mourners, because you know it’s going to be Alcoholics Unanimous from beginning to end? And maybe we could have a maze like the one we had at Mum and Dad’s fortieth anniversary,” Vanessa said. “Remember?”

I would never forget that either. There had been shots of something fairly stiff at the entrance to the maze, and some guests got so drunk right off the bat they were stranded in dead ends until dawn. But I didn’t bring this up, nor did I say that I thought Vanessa’s suggestions were murderously bad. How many funerals did she want in one week? In the interests of time (mine, chiefly) I said I thought they were all ideas worth considering. “That is, when Dad is actually dead,” I said. And then I added, in a way that I hoped suggested a signing off, “Okay, Van. I’m quite busy here.”

But Vanessa wouldn’t be deterred; she poured herself another glass of wine and rattled on. “No, no, no,” she said. “We have to plan now, we’ll be too distraught at the time.” She reminded me she wouldn’t be able to do any of the readings because she was illiterate, as well we all knew. Mum certainly couldn’t do a reading, or much of anything, because she would be an inconsolable wreck. And Richard shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a pulpit. “He’ll just grunt and growl and terrify the congregation,” Vanessa said. “No, Al, when Dad dies, you’re going to have to do the urology.”

 

A week later, March 8, 2010, Dad turned seventy. The day came and went, and in spite of Psalm 90:10 my father didn’t die. To prove the miracle of his continued corporal existence among us, Vanessa e-mailed me a photograph of his funeral party turned birthday bash. There he was on her veranda in the Kafue hills, his arm around Mum’s shoulders. My parents were wearing matching straw hats and expressions of matching lopsided hilarity. Between them, they were holding a bouquet of beaten-up-looking yellow flowers. Daffodils, I thought, but I wasn’t sure. For one thing— due to the camera shaking, or the subjects swaying— the photograph was a little blurry. And for another thing, Vanessa steals most of her flowers from Lusaka hotel gardens, and daffodils seemed unlikely for all sorts of reasons.

I felt a pang of jealous nostalgia, although pang is the wrong word because that suggests something satiable, like hunger. And nostalgia isn’t quite right either, because that suggests a sentimental view of the past, like Artie Shaw or Doris Day was the soundtrack for my youth, but it wasn’t. That was my parents’ soundtrack. Vanessa and I listened to the Swedish pop group ABBA. We had Clem Tholet, the Rhodesian folksinger, ever a popular star at the annual Bless ’Em All Troop Shows. We learned to dance to Ipi Ntombi’s “The Warrior.” My family’s history— with its very real, inevitable consequences— defied romantic longing.

Although Dad believes the only side you can reliably count on is your own, and Vanessa sometimes dispenses irrevocable threats to never talk to any of us again, and my mother carries an impressive grudge—“ I sometimes forget, but I will never ever forgive”—my family mostly gets over it, whatever it is, and they move on. They have to be in the ever-?replenishing present, partly because it is filled with ever-?replenishing uncertainty; there are always fresh crises coming hot on the heels of the old ones.

“No rest for the beautiful,” Dad says.

“Wicked,” I correct him.

“Them too probably.”

Over the years, there have been other phone calls. It is usually Vanessa: “Oh Al, nightmare! There was a black mamba in the kids’ room,” that was once. Another time, she reported that Mum had returned from her morning walk around the farm to find a rabid dog sitting weirdly placid under the Tree of Forgetfulness. “You know what Mum’s like. Luckily she realized it wasn’t acting normally and she didn’t try to stroke it or invite it to sleep on the sofa or anything.” Then there were the few surreal months when crocodiles flooded out of the Zambezi in unusual numbers and plagued my parents’ farm. They were not only in Mum’s fishponds as usual, but also in Dad’s banana plantation; sunbathing outside Mr. Zulu’s house in the morning; casually scraping their way past the watchman’s hut toward the sheep pen at night.

I seldom told Charlie about the phone calls and I rarely shared with him the freshest dramas from Zambia in part because I had learned over time that the events we Fullers found hilarious or entertaining did not always amuse my American husband. Charlie was a gallant one-?man intervention wanting to save us from our recklessness, quietly stepping in whenever he thought we were drinking excessively, ruining our health with cigarettes, or courting intestinal disaster with undercooked chicken. This made the Fullers howl with laughter and did nothing to make them behave differently. One year, in a fit of common sense, I sent a case of Off! insect repellent to the farm in the hope it would reduce the incidence of familial malaria. “Bobo sent us gallons of Bugger Off for Christmas,” Dad told anyone who showed up under the Tree of Forgetfulness that year. “Go ahead, squirt yourself with as much as you like. Shower in it. Have a bath.”

I still felt a little torn. For a long time, I had tried to be profoundly grateful to Charlie for his impulse of wanting to rescue us from our chaos, and I had even tried to believe in his systems of control and protection the way I had once tried to believe in God. But deep down I always knew there is no way to order chaos. It’s the fundamental theory at the beginning and end of everything; it’s the ultimate law of nature. There’s no way to win against unpredictability, to suit up completely against accidents. Which isn’t to say I didn’t embrace the Western idea that it was possible—“Good God, you look as if you’re about to shoot yourselves out of a cannon,” Dad said when he saw Charlie and me dressed for a bicycle ride in Lycra, elbow pads, and crash helmets— but I understood that as much as it is craziness to court danger, disaster, and mishap, it is also craziness to believe that everything can be charted, ordered, and prevented. It’s also more boring.

When I phoned home on Sunday mornings, Mum and Dad were usually at the pub below the banana plantation, overlooking the Zambezi River. It’s evening for them, and they’re taking a couple hours to put their feet up at the bar. Generally, a few drinks have imbued them with extra rations of optimism. Most often, Dad answers first, shouting even if the line is clear. “Fit as a flea,” he usually says, or “Not bad for an old goat.” He rarely elaborates, because in spite of an influx of competitively cheap talk time into Zambia (available for purchase at every intersection in Lusaka and in numerous kiosks all over Chirundu), Dad maintains the telegram-?abrupt phone manners of someone for whom long-?distance calls are a prohibitively expensive luxury. “I’ll hand you over to Mum,” he says as soon as the absolute preliminaries have been completed.

Then it’s her turn to shout contagious enthusiasm at me from their noisy world to my habitually hushed one. She holds the receiver up so I can listen to the birds, the cicadas, and the frogs, and I can hear Dad objecting to this folly: “Bloody expensive conversation Bobo is having with a bunch of fresh air.” But Mum shushes him and says, “Did you hear that?” And if the dogs begin barking she says, “Oh, the adorable little terrorists, can you hear them. Say hello to Bobo, Sprocket. Harry, say woof!” Sometimes she says, “And oh listen! The hippos are scolding us.” And then she holds the phone up to the river, but all I can hear is Dad complaining: “Good Lord, Tub, we’re not the bloody Rockefellers.” But Mum ignores him and rattles on anyway.

“Big excitement this week,” she was telling me now. “We got invited to a party in Lusaka. You know, those people with all the consonants in their names. Tiny blobs of caviar, well, trout eggs really, not sturgeon obviously, and scary amounts of vodka.”

“Scary?”

“Yes, so by the time we were ready to leave the party, your father had already had far too much excitement. He climbed onto the roof of the pickup and refused to come down,” Mum says.

“What?” I hold the receiver out from my ear and stare at it in delight. These are my late-?middle-?aged parents! They are grandparents nine times over. I put the phone back to my ear. “Then what?” I ask.

“I had to drive off with him like that,” Mum says. “And you know what a terrible driver I am. Heaven only knows how we made it home. I was halfway to Makeni before it dawned on me that I might be driving on the wrong side of the road.”

“Dawned on you?”

“Well, Bobo, you know what drivers are these days. I thought they were hooting at me because they wanted me to go faster.”

“So?”

“I drove faster, of course,” Mum says. “Dad was thumping on the roof but I assumed he was just singing the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus or Tchaikovsky’s bells and cannons. How was I to know he wanted to come down? Oh, it was such a performance.”

I shut my eyes and pictured the soft, hot world at the bottom of the farm, with the river lazily curling its way east to Mozambique, and my parents contributing to a general sense of easygoing mayhem in their inimitable way. By contrast, my days were amorphously mapped out with the repeating tasks of laundry and meals and deadlines. And I was more and more drained by an increasingly fraught effort to shore myself up against the belief system I had borrowed. “Well, situation normal here,” I say. “Nothing new to report.”

My parents pitied me the fact that— at least as far as they could tell— all my dramas had to be self-?inflicted. They considered the acceptance of the certainty of pandemonium an essential ingredient to the enjoyment of life. “Don’t yell so loudly or everyone will want them,” Dad said when, on a visit home, a plague of insects and a couple of geckos rained out of the thatch roof of the spare bedroom onto my mosquito net. Nothing surprised him, not the rabid dogs, or the snakes, not the hippos and elephants. “Although the novelty’s beginning to wear off a bit,” he admitted.

It takes a kind of outrageous courage— recklessness even, I might have said once— to revel in the pattern of that much definite chaos. I had been raised in this way, and I had loved much of my early life, and of course I loved my family, but at some point I had lost the mettle and the imagination to surrender to the promise of perpetual insecurity. Instead I chose to believe in the possibility of a predictable, chartable future, and I had picked a life that I imagined would have certainties, safety nets, and assurances.

What I did not know then is that the assurances I needed couldn’t be had. I did not know that for the things that unhorse you, for the things that wreck you, for the things that toy with your internal tide— against those things, there is no conventional guard. “The problem with most people,” Dad said once, not necessarily implying that I counted as most people, but not discounting the possibility either, “is that they want to be alive for as long as possible without having any idea whatsoever how to live.”

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
Praise for LEAVING BEFORE THE RAINS COME

Entertainment Weekly (Grade: A): 
I've loved Alexandra Fuller's other books, particularly Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, a rich, marvelous memoir brimming with details of her romantic Rhodesian upbringing, and Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, which traced her mother's history. But Leaving Before the Rains Come, the story of her crumbling marriage, is even better than those two books, one of the gutsiest memoirs I've ever read. And the writing—oh my God, the writing. It's more than a little daunting to review a book so gorgeously wrought that you stop, time and again, just to marvel at the language."

New York Times Book Review:

“Fuller is far from depleted: This book perhaps marks the beginning of her journey toward an unassailable possession of mind, and toward a new kind of freedom.” 
Booklist (starred review)
“Powerful, raw, and painful, Fuller’s writing is so immediate, so vivid that whether she’s describing the beauty of Zambia or the harrowing hours following a devastating accident, she leaves the reader breathless. Another not-to-be-missed entry from the gifted Fuller.”  

Publishers Weekly
“The rich narration of Fuller’s upbringing, sensibility, and loneliness make clear that she remains one of the most gifted and important memoirists of our time.” 

Kirkus
“Fuller’s talent as a storyteller makes this memoir sing.” 

Praise for COCKTAIL HOUR UNDER THE TREE OF FORGETFULNESS

Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Electrifying…Writing in shimmering, musical prose… Ms. Fuller manages the difficult feat of writing about her mother and father with love and understanding, while at the same time conveying the terrible human costs of the colonialism they supported… Although Ms. Fuller would move to America with her husband in 1994, her own love for Africa reverberates throughout these pages, making the beauty and hazards of that land searingly real for the reader.”

The Washington Post: 
“Ten years after publishing Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, Alexandra (Bobo) Fuller treats us in this wonderful book to the inside scoop on her glamorous, tragic, indomitable mother…Bobo skillfully weaves together the story of her romantic, doomed family against the background of her mother’s remembered childhood.”

Cleveland Plain-Dealer: 
“Another stunner… The writer’s finesse at handling the element of time is brilliant, as she interweaves near-present-day incidents with stories set in the past. Both are equally vivid… With Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness Alexandra Fuller, master memoirist, brings her readers new pleasure. Her mum should be pleased.”

Praise for DON’T LET’S GO TO THE DOGS TONIGHT

Newsweek
“This is not a book you read just once, but a tale of terrible beauty to get lost in over and over.” 

The New Yorker
“By turns mischievous and openhearted, earthy and soaring . . . hair-raising, horrific, and thrilling.”

People
“Vivid, insightful and sly…Bottom line: Out of Africa, brilliantly.”

Meet the Author

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. In 1994, she moved to Wyoming. 

Brief Biography

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

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Leaving Before the Rains Come 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fuller does not disappoint. Small book, but well written, with nuggets of read-again wisdom interspersed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Alexandra Fuller is an author with a great way of writing about humor and tragedy. I have loved both her other memoirs "Cocktail Hour" and "Don't Lets go to the Dogs". This update to her life and the collapse of her marriage is at points hard to read, but I cannot put it down. As a male reader these types of books are not usually what I choose to read, but based on her past work I couldn’t wait to get this book and have not been disappointed.
GreenMamba More than 1 year ago
Alexandra Fuller has been a rich and rewarding part of my reading life....and this book is yet another affirmation of her exceptional writing talent, wisdom and wit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a big fan of Alexandra Fuller. I loved her book Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight. Leaving Before the Rain Comes is an amazing sequel to Dogs. The writing is rich and savory. The story is remarkable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This author uses words in a way I envy. Her prose is heavenly. Now I MUST go read her other books.
mystery53 More than 1 year ago
It is always fun to see how other people live in this crazy world. Moreover, you are traveling to Africa and getting to know an eccentric family. I feel right at home with eccentric families, but Africa is completely exotic. Sometimes it is hard to follow Ms. Fuller's narrative because she changes from past to present and "in between" without much warning. It feels as if she is "speaking from the hip" to her reader audience. People survive the most horrendous things and some just give up. Ms Fuller is the former, a survivor to the fullest.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
simply average writing. Could not be sympathetic to author's story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
vivikalv More than 1 year ago
good