Christopher Ondaatje, Times Higher Education Supplement
Kathryn Hughes, New Statesman
''Excellent', Christopher Ondatje, 'Times Higher Education Supplement''
Elspeth Huxley, who died in 1997, is chiefly remembered for her lyrical and evocative memoir 'The Flame Trees of Thika'. Yet 'Flame Trees' was only one of the thirty books she wrote, and it took just a few months of her remarkably active life to compose.
A woman of compelling personality, exceptionally energetic and effective in everything she did, Elspeth Huxley was not only a celebrated writer, but a farmer, broadcaster, journalist, conservationist, political thinker, magistrate and government adviser. Her wide circle included George and Joy Adamson, the Leakeys and Peter Scott (whose biography she wrote). Whatever their subject, her books reveal the adventurousness, warmth, perception and occasional astringency which made up her own personality; they are also notable for their acute observation and great social range, encompassing the lives of Kenya's poor white farmers, the frivolous Happy Valley set and Africans alike.
For this, the first biography of Elspeth Huxley, C.S. Nicholls has made extensive use of her papers and letters. 'Elspeth Huxley: A Biography' is not merely a fascinating portrait of an extraordinary woman, but an absorbing account of a whole era of colonial and British history.
Kathryn Hughes, 'New Statesman'