Cocktails, Forgetfulness, Africa and War: the stage was set

African Sky

African Sky (Photo credit: Sotiris Farmakidis)

bookshelves: f2f-book-club-readsalphabet-challenge,personal-challenge100

Read in March, 2013

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
by Alexandra Fuller

We read this book for our f2f book club particularly as one our members was brought up in Africa and thus loves to read books that evoke her childhood, and that it did!
The book was exceptionally well written I thought, funny in places and desperately sad in others as the children died.
I found the language very appealing and insightful in places:
“She thought about how she had no fear of death and bout how she did not have words for how she loved the child she had lost. No words at all”
“Those years have blossomed like a stain”
“If I peel back the corner of those memories”
“How few have the wisdom to look forward with unclouded hindsight”

Overall this was a book about an African childhood spent with what the white Africans would have classed as a poor white family. They had very little money and often made very poor decisions. It was mostly centred around the mother as a biography of her actions and behaviour, which at times was bizarre. Did she drink too much? Did she drink more than other white Africans? This was not clear.everyone seemed to drink enormous amounts… She certainly had manic episodes and depressive episodes. The father remained rather shadowy in this book and how much he participated in the decisions was not clear.
However, he decide to fight for the white side in Rhodesia for 6 long and very difficult years. And he stayed by the side of his wife throughout all their vicissitudes and tried to farm the very poor land that they purchased as though it was the English land he had given up. And he went back to Africa with her even though it was extraordinarily difficult to do so at that time. So did he lead her into these episodes?
The book has the following quotation by Rabindranath Tagore which perhaps sums it up:
“Power said to the world ‘You are mine’.
the world kept it prisoner on her throne.
Love said to the world ‘I am thine’.
The world give it the freedom of her house.”


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