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4.4 out of 5 stars
Out of Africa (Penguin Modern Classics)
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on 26 October 2000
As an avid reader, Out of Africa still remains one of my favourite books. I have returned to it many times to absorb myself in the world of Africa at the turn of the 20th century.
Karen Blixen lived in Africa from 1914 to 1931 where she set up a coffee plantation. Through the book she meanders through her life in no chronological order telling wonderful stories about the people she encountered while there. She gives the reader no hints on her personal live leaving you picking through the story desperately trying to figure out the woman behind the life.
I found this book both stirring and remarkable and will return again and again.
"If I know a song of Africa," she writes, "of the Giraffe, and the African new moon lying on her back, of the ploughs in the fields, and the sweaty faces of the coffee-pickers, does Africa know a song of me?"
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 29 June 2005
I consider Out of Africa to be the best-written portrayal of Africa by a foreign writer. She did a great job in her portrayal, indicating that she was well versed not only with the land, but also with the native African peoples she met and knew as well as their way of life. The fact that Karen respected that way of life made her to have a deep understanding of their customs and lives at a time of colonialism where European settlers lived an exclusive life from the natives and only dealt with them as sources of cheap labor. I could not help recalling other titles set in the colonial era such as THE USURPER AND OTHER STORIES, DISCIPLES OF FORTUNE, NOWHERE IN AFRICA. However, Karen towered above the others in her unique style of recounting her stories.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This is an account of Karen Blixen's (Isak Dinesen) time running a coffee farm in the hills above Nairobi. However, it is not a straight narrative account, but a series of portraits of the people she met and the places she visited. You will meet the ever present Farah, Kamante, a young boy she tries to heal, and Old Knudsen, the Dane, who makes his way to her farm; as does a Swedish fugitive called Emmanuelson. Obviously, there is her lover, Denys Finch-Hatton, who flies her over Africa. However, this is a love story to Africa, rather than any one person and she presents an evocative portrait of that time and place.

Throughout the book, Blixen tells her stories with a sense of dislocation. So, even when being told of a terrible shooting accident on the farm, and her night time drive to take two seriously injured children to the hospital, there is a distance in the writing. It is almost as though you are looking back on events yourself, but you have a great sense of her real affection for the people and places she writes about. Beautiful prose and an almost dream like read, which stands the test of time and remains a classic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 June 2014
What a beautiful place Africa is. The book took me back to Karen Blixen's farm i visited on one of my trips to kenya. She is a wonderful writer, almost poetic. Have enjoyed reading this book and will be reading it again. If you have a kindle i would recommend you download a sample to read before purchase it might not be for everyone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 October 2013
This really evokes the spirit of the Kenyan landscape and Blixen's tenacious spirit. Her relationship with the locals is well drawn and reflects the time in which the novel is set, so can't really be viewed through a 'post -colonial lense'. The narrative is strong and captivating, and even though Blixen can be irritating at times there is no doubting her strength of character. Having visited her house in Karen recently (yes, they named the town after her) a re-reading of the book only serves to confirm how much she captured something of the spirit of Africa.
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on 13 May 2015
I adored this book. I love Blixen's style. Maybe it comes from English not being her first language, but it is refreshingly correct, unaffected and deeply poetic. She has impressive powers of observation whether for people or nature. Not for you if you are looking for the prurient details of a decadent group of ex pats (I have read them elsewhere!), but enthralling for her understanding of the world around her - she at least took the time to engage with the local population. It shouldn't be necessary to mention it, but values and social mores have changed a lot since Blixen's day and it would be foolish to judge according to today's standards. Suffice to say, with the ensuing uprisings and burning of property, Blixen's farm was left unscathed.

This book is a jewel and I join the ranks of those who cannot understand why it was not more lauded as an important work of literature.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 26 March 2012
Karen Blixen describes her life as a coffee farmer in Kenya between 1914 and 1931. She was clearly a remarkable human being, and gives a powerful sense of what life was like in that time and place. Particularly memorable accounts of the lives of the Natives and the way in which life there is part and parcel with the landscape - and something into which some individuals from the West could fit (better than into their lives back home). The harm wrought by colonialism is also very clear.

This book reminded me strongly of two other books of memoirs - Cider With Rosie and Christ Stopped Short At Eboli, both of which also give the same sense of a primitive and valuable way of life, untouched by time and on the verge of being lost.

Blixen does go on to lose her farm; and her own paradise....Strongly recommended - for those in the market for memoirs of this kind.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 2 November 2012
This story of a way of life now long gone is, for me, a sad reflection on the way in the world of today, that we cannot seem to accept that the ethnic, relgious and cultural ways of life of other nations are just as valid as those here in the UK. We are all just human beings and all descended from the first species of "homo sapiens". For me, I could not care less what colour or religion people that I meet are. It is about time that some of the so called leaders of our communities, in whichever nation, started behaving towards others in the way that Karen Blixen related to the indigenous peoples she met during her time in Africa, instead of continually trying to tell them that they are wrong and forcing their views on them by force. Recent events in Syria and Burma typify this.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 10 November 2013
I bought this having been a fan of the film since it first came out and having watched it again recently. Although the book doesn't have a chronological narrative, being more a collection of episodes, the prose is beautiful and poetic and the film adaptation embodies this. The main challenge with the book, however, is the small and rather poor quality type, which makes reading and engaging with the text more of a struggle than it should be. I am going to persevere though!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A wonderful memoir of a unique time in history. I bought it sometime after watching the film. Of course like all films/books you can't really compare the two. I found the book to be an enjoyable read, with some great descriptions of the stunning Kenyan countryside and tales from Colonial Africa.
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