Top positive review
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A Very Big Adventure
on 11 April 2013
'In The Shade Of The Mulberry Tree' tells the true story of a year in the life of its author, Catharine Withenay, who is suddenly transported from her very nice life in London to the far more challenging world of Zambia, when her husband accepts a research job at a Zambian hospital. The book charts Catharine's at first, very negative reaction to her new surroundings as she is faced with no proper furniture, shortage of money and a complete lack of local know how. However, as she becomes increasingly more 'at home' in the new country, small concessions to the new culture begin to emerge.
The book delights on several levels: Firstly in Withenay's written style, which is very clear, without being simplistic. There are some lovely descriptions of markets and shops, and journeys into the bush to see animals. It is as if the reader is actually there, peering over her shoulder at all the sights and marvels she is privileged to witness. The other aspect that pleases is her unflinching truthfulness, not only about her own feelings of homesickness and initial resentment at the upheaval of her entire world, but at the frustrations encountered by her husband in his medical research. There are some heart-rending descriptions of the suffering and privations endured by local people and their little ones that cannot fail to bring tears to the reader's eyes. A book that enlightens on several levels - not least in opening one's eyes to how other people have to little, and yet manage to enjoy life, and how we take so much for granted in our complacent Western world.