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4.6 out of 5 stars60
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 16 September 2014
If you didn’t know this was a true story, this book would read like a fiction book, an English Officer who finds an idyllic spot in Africa (Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia) after the First World War buys acres of land and decides to build a manor house and village, based on an English country village. With no experience of building and using local materials a beautiful, impractical house takes shape in Africa, Life is ruled by this house, the cost of its upkeep was tremendous and although many projects were tried nothing seemed to be able to make money for any prolonged period. The house became famous throughout Africa and enjoyed many rich and famous visitors. Stewart Gore –Brown enjoyed a very colonial life style being waited on hand and foot by Africans, dressing for dinner and living his life as lord of the manor. Gore –Brown is not as appears and is something of a puzzle, he shouts at his servants, hits them and expects a certain standard, but at the same time builds houses for them and gives them work. Later in the book you find out he goes against all the views of the time and actually believes and works towards independence. He forms a lifelong friendship with Kenneth Kaunda (first president of Zambia) and is the only white man to get a state funeral in 1967.
Throw into the mix the strange relationship Gore enjoyed with his aunt, who he wrote to everyday of her life, and had actually built the house with her in mind. In his mind he had hoped she would give up her estate in England and come and live with him. His marriage (which ended in divorce) to the (very much younger) orphaned daughter of his first love. Two daughters and a lifelong faithful servant/ chauffeur Henry. This book paints a vivid picture of Zambia’s fight for independence and the descriptions of Africa at the turn of the century and is very enjoyable.
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on 5 April 2013
Thankfully Christina Lamb has brought to life the indomitable spirit of Gore-Brown - he (and others like him) shouldn't be forgotten. Arrogant, yes, but self-belief and strength of character pushed men like him to overcome anything to reach their goal. Awesome is a word loosely used today but this man's story is truly AWESOME! I hope I'll have the opportunity to experience Shiwa and SO glad that his grandson Mark has renovated the manor. It must still cost a fortune to run and I would expect to pay for the privilege of seeing this complex man's dream for myself.
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on 8 March 2001
I enjoyed reading the Africa House because it describes the passion of a man, and it reminded me of my great-grandfather who had similar experiences in French colonies. I would definitely recommend it.
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on 21 July 1999
When we lived in Northern Province, Zambia in the mid eighties we visited the house many times. I always thought this was a book that cried out to be written. Christina Lamb has done it beautifully.
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on 3 June 2013
Another fabulous book from Christina Lamb beautifully written and meticulously researched. What a fantastic job she did bringing this obscure little story to light before the "Africa House" is consumed back by the Zambian bush and forgotten forever. Much more than a book about an eccentric Englishman trying to create a little bit of England in tropical Africa. The theme of love lost and the search to find something to fill the void runs throughout the book. A great story indeed.
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on 28 July 2012
Whilst i enjoyed this book in a way, having lived for many years in Southern Africa and absolutely fell in love with the place, this is a story of a very odd person. I appreciate he was a product of his time and class, but really, what an insufferable arse !! The stories of dining alone and dressing for dinner, having the gong going and the servants dressed up like stuffed English butlers - well really. In the end I found his patronising attitude to the 'natives' unbearable.
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on 2 October 2013
An astonishing and truly inspiring tale. Christina Lamb probably didn't know the effect she would have on the fate of this house when she took up the story all those years ago but it appears she has breathed new life into her subject's dream and, in a sense, become part of the story herself. Stewart Gore-Browne would surely have approved.
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on 26 April 2001
Hopefully everybody enjoyed the book as much as I did. We have now renovated the house and will have it open for people to stay in from July of this year
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on 11 January 2013
For those with any interest in Africa in a bygone era and the colonial mindset this is a great book. It is hard to understand nowadays how someone could be so arrogant as to build and English house in Africa and expect it to work. A lesson in man's pride over the African elements. A brilliant read, though.
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on 25 December 2013
A fascinating story, particularly if you are interested in the history of African colonies. It is hard to imagine that this man achieved so much and is not that well known but also quite shocking to read how he was actually popular for providing employment etc but quite brutal in his treatment of staff.
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