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The Mottled Lizard Paperback – 6 May 1999
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This is the sequel to Huxley's wonderful first volume of Kenyan memoirs, The Flame Trees of Thika. Returning to her beloved Africa after the First World War, she, Tilly and Robin set about clearing the overgrown estate and getting it back in working order again. The flame trees have grown wild and the coffee bushes have almost disappeared, so there is much to do. There is a poignancy in the loss of old friends, but a renewed delight in the sights, sounds and smells of the country: the aroma of frangipani trees and dried cowdung, the flat-topped acacias shimmering in the heat of the plains, the herds of lyre-horned impala. Huxley can be achingly romantic and passionate about the things she truly cares about and fears are disappearing: the wildlife, the indigenous peoples, the beauty of Africa itself. Or she can be a fine comic writer, hilariously insouciant about things like an outbreak of bubonic plague on the boat out, for instance, pausing in the Red Sea to dump the corpses overboard. Or the incident with the exploding marmalade in the bathroom. (You'll have to read it for yourself.) All in all, its the same heady mix that made Flame Trees of Thika such a superb book, in turns dazzlingly beautiful and preposterously funny. --Christopher Hart
"She knows East Africa and she loves it - the people, black and white, and the wild beauy of its countryside - with a critical and understanding sympathy" (The Times)
"More lyrical than the first volume" (The Washington Post)
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Some of Huxley's books are:-
(1) White Man's Country, 2 volumes 1935, 1980
(2) Murder in Safari 1938
(3) Red Strangers 1939
(4) The Flame Trees of Thika 1959
(5) With Fork and Hope 1964
(6) Livingstone 1974
(7) Out in the midday Sun, My Kenya 1985
Having born in Kenya, I enjoyed reading this book.
Read and ENJOY.
Elspeth Huxley is a superb writer, and her descriptions of early settler life in Kenya are riveting.
This book is also forward-looking in the way that the early settlers thought the riches of Kenya were inexhaustible, and with luck anyone could live a rich and prosperous life there. Towards the end of the book we realise that is not true, and Kenya's wildlife would be almost extinct a mere 40 years later.
Definitely a worthwhile read for anyone who enjoys wildlife and nature, and also for anyone who has a curiosity about early colonial life in East Africa.
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