Thursday, 19 July 2012

THE FLAME TREES OF THIKA – Elspeth Huxley, 1959

First of all, I had to get over the disappointment that the Flame Trees played such a small part in the overall story. It may be that Huxley expected them to take on some extra significance. I don’t know anything about flame trees. Perhaps they are particularly resilient? Perhaps they are especially resplendent in this part of Africa? I did think that the title would have a bearing on the plot but, and even after watching he TV series, I can’t see that it has.
What we have here, however, is a lovely account, from a child’s point of view, of the splendours and hardships of life in Kenya at the start of the Twentieth Century. Huxley’s anecdotes are a joy to read and bring vividly to life the daily trials faced by anyone attempting to making a living from the African soil.
This is a beautiful book. Elspeth understands the land and the people around her. She respects and is respected by the Masai and Kikuyu tribal members and innocently captures a slice of life which, while hard, was ultimately rewarding.

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