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on 30 October 2015
Great Read; glad of the opportunity to order a book I missed when first published.
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on 20 January 2014
I love books about Africa, especially Kenya, but found this one rather confusing. It started off well and the idea is good, but I felt that Barnes jumped from person to person and house to house far too much. She has obviously researched the subject well, and it is interesting to hear about the people who now inhabit these almost derelict properties and how they are growing crops in the once beautifully kept gardens. Worth reading.
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on 8 February 2016
Worth every penny and a good read if you like Africa.
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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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on 11 January 2015
What a great idea for a book! I loved it.
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on 30 October 2013
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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on 31 March 2015
Brand new book for an amazing prices
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on 4 July 2013
This book was first published in 2013, has 303 pages, 30 chapters, 46 photos and 1 map. The book is dedicated to 'Solomon'. JULIET BARNES was born, raised and schooled in Kenya and then went to St Andrew's University, Scotland to read English. She now lives with her 2 children beside Lake ELEMENTEITA in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya. HAPPY VALLEY (in the 1920's to 1930's) name was given to 'Wanjohi Valley' in Kenya Highlands, between the Aberdares(Nyandarua Range-13,120ft) and the Kipipiri Mountain-10,987ft, where rich whites settled. Barnes goes to find out what was left of these settlers homes, farms and lives. The Railway station of GIL GIL(relentless dusty wind) was the access to Happy Valley. Now-a-days, it is a run down and scruffy roadside town.
So in the year 2000, Solomon, a kikuyu guides Barnes to the Happy Valley. Using her old land rover on the rough roads, they see old settlers houses and farms, now rundown. Some have vanished, some intact and some now haunted! They visit 'Clouds'(Mawingo) - Lady Idina's house and 'Slains,', still mystified by the unsolved murder of Lord Erroll. Barnes discovers love triangles, drug additions, depression and even suicide, amongst the so called 'happy valley' settlers, including Alice Silverthorne(de-Janze or de-Trafford). Happy Valley had become a 'Problem Valley'.
With help from Solomon, Barnes struggles on the bad roads and visits(over 10 years) what remains of other farms and houses of the Valley, their flowering gardens, fruit trees and lawns. Now the locals are busy cutting and burning the trees and the rivers are going dry and the trout and the wildlife have gone. Some names remain - 'Happy valley school' and some 'MAU MAU' veterans, in these beautiful natural surroundings. The only totally intact old house with well kept gardens, was 'Ramsdens Kipipiri House'.
Some say 'Happy Valley was named after people had crossed baron Rift Valley and saw this beautiful valley which made them happy. Others felt, it could have been named after village of happy valley in Essex, England! All before the happy valley crowd moved in. This book ends with interviews with old Mau Mau men, stories of whites who may have helped them and author's quest to find the truth about Lord Erroll's murder.
This book goes into detailed history of 'Happy Valley' and what remains of it now. The artist's map shows houses and farms and who lived in them. Pictures show how some farms and houses were and what they look like now. By 1950's old happy valley crowd had faded away and the kikuyu moved into the area and some wealthy African politicians with their other business interests. Most of us as tourists will never see these places in Kenya, which makes it more interesting to read this book.
Some other books of interest are:-
(1) West with the Night, Markham 1942
(2) Out of Africa, Blixen 1964
(3) Forks and Hope, Huxley 1964
(4) Happy Valley, Best 1979
(5) White Mischief, Fox 1984
(6) The man Whom Women Loved, Aschen 1987
(7) Silence will Speak, Trzebinski 1988
(8) Child of Happy Valley, Carberry 1999( Juanita Carberry died of lung Cancer, aged 88, on 27.7.2013, in Clapham.)
(9) The Truth Behind Happy Valley Murder, Trzebinski 2000
(10)The Bolter, Osborne 2008
Having born in Kenya, I found this book interesting.
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on 6 January 2014
You really need to have read "white Mischief" first to appreciate this book, Juliet Barnes lives in Kenya and has often wondered if any of the wonderful houses which the band of British ex pats living in Kenya's Happy valley in the 1930's, who scandalized britain with their behaviour had survived. I had wondered that myself and after all the publicity which the book and film garnered wondered why some enterprizing soul was not doing tours or cashing in on the fame. Barnes goes in search of the most well known houses , it is a sad tale of Kenya's descent into poverty and corruption, loss of land and respect for the local wildlife, the houses prove very difficult to find and have often been left as ruins, she finds servants who had worked with some of the ex pats, now very old men and women. This also becomes a tale of the mau mau uprising, trying desperately to get the British to leave their land and how neighbour was set against neighbour and innocent people became involved in this struggle. It turns out to be quite a bleak book and quite depressing when you see the houses in their prime and how they are now just hanging on, i am glad Juliet made this search ( it was done over 10 years ) as I am sure these houses will soon disappear for ever taking their tales and the history of another time with them.
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