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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 28 April 2015
So glad I bought this delightful book. Juliet brings to life the modern rural Kenya, as she tracks down the old houses of the Happy Valley settlers. The anecdotes of the veteran Mau Mau terrorists and the present day residents of the houses give the African viewpoint on White settlers. You sympathize with Solomon trying desperately to save the Colobus monkey and indigenous trees whilst being thwarted by bigwig money interests.
Juliet's description of the almost impossible rutted roads and quagmires, after the rains transported me back to my childhood in Kenya.
A well written book that brings to life modern Kenya and the plight of the rural African living in poverty, fifty years post independence. One wonders what happened to all the billions of Aid money given to Kenya?? It certainly didn't benefit the rural African.
If you are looking for a saucy read about the Happy Valley sex exploits then this book isn't for you. If you want a snapshot of Kenya fifty years post independence with an update on the settlers farms carved up as land settlement plots, then this book is a must read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 22 June 2014
I was really looking forward to this account of twisted colonialism but was hugely disappointed with this book which I believe wanders in and out of focus. There are really two books here: one about the Happy Valley set and one about the state of the area's Kenya tribesmen. The author appears uncertain as to which to choose but the former appears on the cover, leaving the reader desperately frustrated at having fascinating Happy Valley residents picked up and dumped in favour of the estimable Solomon Gitau and his green credentials concerning trees and the colubus monkey. There are two many different journeys here, leaving the book feeling equally fractured. Also, the book needs proof reading. There are a number of errors, which include things which might be said but look odd in print and, occasionally, some extremely uncomfortable phrasing. The result for me is a lack of depth on what should be a fascinating subject, possibly due to insufficient research, and a failure to get under the skin of these extraordinary characters, both individually and as a group. I felt it read more like a set of detailed notes in preparation for a book. I hope the obviously courageous Ms Barnes will forgive me.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 10 July 2013
I found this book is not easy to read at times. I think the writer tends to meander through the descriptions of the houses once occupied by the European farmers. One minute we are at the house called Clouds, once the home of Idina, the wife of Lord Errol and then on to other residences owned by people who also carved out a living and strived to exist and then back to Clouds. I find that I am confused by the number and names of people she finds occupies the houses now. The map she included gives us an excellent idea of the kind of distance these people had to cover to get to any kind of contact with the outer world. I learned a great deal about the sad plight of the beautiful colobus monkey and her friend Simon who's conservation work is so important.

Juliet Barnes puts forward some already tried and tested ideas as to who killed Lord Errol. Many of the theories we have already read about in other books like 'White Mischief' or 'The Life and Death of Lord Errol'. Somebody must know something but we may never know. Julian Fellows, who did an hour long documentary on the murder said at the end that he knew who did it but would not tell! Perhaps Juliet Barnes ought to confront him and try and get some more information from him. The book has many interesting moments,especially when she meets some of the old Mau Mau fighters. I would recommend this as a good read and well worth buying as it has some good details about the type of life these pioneers led which was not easy, yet they stayed and loved the country so much
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 6 September 2013
This book is a well written and beautifully documented journey through both time and the lands of Kenya.

The book is very well researched and clearly shows the authors love of her country and home. Not only are we treated to a rich and interesting commentary of Kenya's past (mainly white) history, but the troubles it has caused in modern Kenya, including corruption, de-forestation and rapid urbanisation.

It is a must for any traveler thinking of visiting Kenya, or in fact any one with an interest into colonialism or African history.

A labour of love which is a interesting, and often emotional read for all.

Only critisism is that a table of houses and owners would have been useful because I kept getting confused who everyone is!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 September 2014
Very informative and interesting, and clears a few questions up. Loved the photos.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 12 May 2014
pleasant but amateur piece,perhaps telling us more about the author and her times (and values) than the 30's and 40's in Kenya
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 22 May 2014
The writer has crafted the book in a manner that makes it part detective story about that intriuging but short lived time about which everyone seems to think is the only thing that kenyan colonial history is about and the so important story of Solomon, the guide and his ceaseless efforts against all odds in matters of conservation. Written in an uncompromising style that introduces readers to some of the difficulties that faced people then and now. A useful social history and well worth the read for that in itself.
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on 26 May 2015
glad that I bought this to add to my Kenya library.
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on 16 April 2015
Brought back many memories of my birth-country.
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What a great idea for a book! I loved it.
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