46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Robert Redford
Following the very successful film Out of Africa there have been several biographies of the principal real-life characters, Karen Blixen and Denys Finch Hatton and their times - roughly the first three decades of the 20th C. Sara Wheeler has undertaken an enormous amount of diligent research to bring us Too Close to the Sun, the most comprehensive biography I have seen of...
Published on 9 Oct 2009 by Brian Singleton
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not quite famous
This is a cleverly written book about someone who did little and achieved less but was by all accounts a great charmer. His main claim to fame, posthumously, was through Karen Blixen's memoir Out of Africa. With so little information on Denys Finch Hatton's (DFH) life and indeed little to write about - the main themes are endless trips back and forth from England to Kenya...
Published on 2 Mar 2008 by H. Rogers
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36 of 49 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, slapdash,
This really is quite a dreadful book. I bought it after reading a couple of good reviews, hoping for an intelligent presentation of the life of Denys Finch Hatton, who I thought sounded interesting and who was also linked to the life of KAren Blixen. There's some interesting stuff in here, but I was left feeling very disappointed. The main thing I didn't like was that the book reads like the sort of biography that might have been written 80 years ago - it's really quite incurious about the realities of DFH's life, as if Wheeler is more interested in showing how nicely she can write about African scenery and sounding witty than actually getting down and dirty with the facts of DFH's life (and not just facts, even some thoughtful speculation would be interesting, but very little is supplied). What we get are some swash-buckling anecdotes, the sort of thing Oxford types might exchange over the port at High Table, and that's that. It's all very bright and breezy, somehow soulless, and then there's Wheeler's dismissive rubbishing of Karen Blixen, which just irritates the reader. The most interesting thing about DFH, in the end, is that Karen Blixen wrote about him, so if you say that her works were just tiresome then you start to erode at the reader's interest in your main subject - why should we read about this man that this 'tiresome' writer was so obsessed with? Perhaps Wheeler just realised that DFH didn't merit a biography - by the end I really didn't feel that he did!
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Spoilt by pretentious style,
At the beginning of the book the author admits that Finch Hatton left no diary and few letters, so in order to stretch her material to book length she reasonably concentrates as much on his times as on his life. Less forgivably she has decided to pad the book out with pretentious poetic flights of fancy which are presumably included to show off her command of the English language. There is a place for such exercises in creative descriptive writing but this sort of biography is not it and they jar whenever they occur. Not only are they inappropriate here, they frequently don't even make sense.
This could have been an enjoyable book had the style not been so irritating.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars NOT WHAT I EXPECTED,
This review is from: Too Close to the Sun: The Audacious Life and Times of Denys Finch Hatton (Hardcover)
"Denys had been out of Africa for the whole of 1921, Tania for the whole of 1920. They were reunited at the end of the long rains, when fireflies came to the highland woods and skyscrapers of clouds topple through the blue."
I wanted to like this novel very much but it never happened. I thought that I would have found deep and interesting characters, and get to really know the blue-eyed boy Denys Finch Hatton. It was repetitive and vague in many parts, but although it was not for me, others may like it. I was not impressed.
Reviewed by Heather Marshall Negahdar (SUGAR-CANE 07/08/08)
11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Read,
This is a brilliant book which stunningly recreates a forgotten era. Sara Wheeler teases out themes in the life Denys Finch Hatton, the legendary and pioneering white hunter who was the lover of Karen Blixen. There are some hysterically funny scenes including one in which Finch Hatton guides the Prince of Wales on safari through thousands of miles of unmapped bush. The action flits between the Rift Valley of Kenya, the flooded plains of Mesopotamia and the smoky cafes of London's Piccadilly. There is also a fascinating central section about the East Africa Campaign, the forgotten front of the First World War. In short, a masterpiece - like Sara Wheeler's other books.
12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful, thought-provoking read,
This is a great read. It really brought alive the age in which Hatton lived, and the incidents, relationships and societies which outlined the life of this quite extraordinary man. Wheeler deals beautifully with people who were 'not quite famous' (if you haven't read her 'Cherry' biog do - an equally great read) and places them in their context so you can see what drove them, inspired them and buffeted them to live the lives they did. I loved it - it was evocative, beautifully written, and most of all made me think - about what drove him, and about what drives me. Thoroughly recommended.
9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too hurried a biography,
What could have been Sara Wheeler's very finest book to date is sadly marred by signs of over-hasty research and writing, with some irritatingly obvious errors intruding on an otherwise excellent, fluent, engaging text. The result is a little disappointing, but well worth reading nonetheless.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's OK...just,
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'It's Ok' just about describes this book. It appeared complicated to read and disjointed to me.
I was probably thinking about 'Out of Africa'... and I think the content would have held my
interest had it been a film documentary.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average book on an average guy,
Like some of the other reviews,I agree with the viewpoint that Finch Hatton wasn't that worthy of a book. What Sara Wheeler has done well, and the saving merit of this book, is to give us a portrait of the age and flavour of Kenya from WW1 to the end of WW2.
Prompted by watching the film 'Out of Africa', the characters of the film seemed a whole lot more interesting than the emotionally flawed people who litter this book of real life, loathed in self pity and melodrama.
8 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Read,
By A Customer
I was transported back in time with this compelling story. Fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable. Wonderfully written.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars,
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This review is from: Too Close To The Sun: The Life and Times of Denys Finch Hatton (Kindle Edition)
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Too Close to the Sun: The Audacious Life and Times of Denys Finch Hatton by Sara Wheeler (Hardcover - 24 April 2007)
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