Academic journal article Hollins Critic

Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness

Academic journal article Hollins Critic

Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness

Article excerpt

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness. By Alexandra Fuller. New York: Penguin, 2011. $25.95 (cl.); $15.00 (pa.)

For most of us in America, Africa is a far, far away place. For writer Alexandra Fuller, British born and now a resident of Wyoming, it was home. Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is a book of memory and the past: the author's, Africa's, and the author's mother, Nicola Fuller of Central Africa, described as "highly strung with a genetic predisposition to funny moods, depression and mental wobbliness."

Fuller writes of her mother (who came from ancestry based in the Scottish Highlands): "Nicola Fuller of Central Africa holds dear to her heart the values of her clan: loyalty to blood, passion for the land, death before surrender." It is these same values Fuller's mother brings to her life in Africa.

The book is deftly written, scented with cigarettes and gardenias, and a reader longs to see the African equatorial light. Cocktail Hour is first and foremost a story about family, but it is also a story about Africa, and a story about searching for home. There is a distinctly chilling element to Fuller's tale; during the family's time in Rhodesia, the life or death threats from all around were all too real. …

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