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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic book - ideal for any visitor to Kenya
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...
Published 19 months ago by Moon

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Happy Valley Ghosts out of focus
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...
Published 10 months ago by Mr. K. J. Last


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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Happy Valley Ghosts out of focus, 22 Jun. 2014
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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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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More about the murder, 10 July 2013
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warthog (Wales /England) - See all my reviews
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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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic book - ideal for any visitor to Kenya, 6 Sept. 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
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved the photos, 29 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: The Ghosts of Happy Valley: Searching for the Lost World of Africa's Infamous Aristocrats (Paperback)
Very informative and interesting, and clears a few questions up. Loved the photos.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much of a travelogue, 10 Jun. 2014
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I did get much of what I wanted from the book, an account of the life of Happy Valley at its most notorious, there is too much emphasis placed on the role of the author for my tastes. What the modern Happy Valley, its surrounding habitations and current population are like should be a secondary aspect, instead these seem to have taken on more importance than the book's ostensible subjects. It is sad that so much has changed almost beyond recognition or disappeared, but that is no different to the changes that have taken place almost everywhere. I found the modern aspect distracting and unnecessary.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars pleasant but amateur, 12 May 2014
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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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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the ghosts of happy valley, 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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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 16 April 2015
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Brought back many memories of my birth-country.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 11 Jan. 2015
By 
Charlotte Baldwin "English mystery fan" (Urbanna, VA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Ghosts of Happy Valley: Searching for the Lost World of Africa's Infamous Aristocrats (Paperback)
What a great idea for a book! I loved it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating account of a changing world, 30 Oct. 2013
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I enjoyed Juliet's book very much indeed. I can appreciate the comments of readers who found it rather fragmented, but found this part of the books appeal. How, after all, is it possible that only sixty or so years after Happy Valley existed in the form of thriving farms, an abundance of flora and fauna, and of course the eccentric life style of those who lived there, so little now exists.

I had imagined that these gracious homes were now occupied by the present day elite of Kenya, and felt saddened to read that they had decayed to the point where Juliet had difficulty locating and identifying them. It hardly seems possible... a time frame alien to our British understanding. I was also struck by the fact that the ruins Juliet discovered were not merely the derelict remains of previous times - they appear to have been ripped apart, and ravaged to the point the you almost knew before Juliet entered one, that there was little hope of discovering any abandonned artifact of days gone by. Just foundations,tumble down walls, and the occasional unexpected rose bush, a poignant memory of those who had lived in and loved these homes.

Those who know Africa will appreciate what a refreshing person Solomon is, with his love of the natural world, and instinctive understanding of conservation, which places him at odds with his community at times. He is exactly the sort of person whose knowledge and enthusiasm should be used by conservation agencies.

As for the Happy Valley set? They are of interest, and whilst I'm not sure they all had the same comittment to
Kenya as settlers such as the Delameres, it seems unlikely that they would have established themselves in Happy Valley if they hadn't experienced that well described 'Africa gets in your blood' feeling. But they were hedonists,lived life hard, and so much was a short term fix. Maybe for them living in Africa was just that.

But thanks Juliet for a great book. It answered some of my own thoughts. Had, I wondered, the names of the homes changed? Who lived in them now? It hadn't crossed my mind that these wonderful old homes no longer exist, or that there was such such widespread destruction of the landscape.I also love old houses, and recognised the interest, passion and despair that Juliet felt on discovering the ruins.
As for Earl Errol .... we'll just have to carry on speculating.
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