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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.
16 people found this helpful
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on 4 November 2015
Juliet Barnes set herself a very difficult task in trying to rewrite a story which has been told numerous times in the last 30 years. She has used an examination of the remains, in many cases the ruins, of the houses occupied by the decadent Happy Valley set as the basis of this new slant. Frankly it doesn't work! Even if you know Africa, and I have lived and worked in many parts of the continent over the last 40 years, the story gets rapidly tedious and her "side kick" Solomon, a Kenyan who has an obsession with colobus monkeys, just adds to the tedium. However, I am a persistent individual and I pursued the book to the finish. Only in one of the chapters near the end of the book does the story get interesting where state involvement in the murder of Lord Errol raises its head. The majority of the book deals with the modern Kenya,its people, the way it is governed and the day to day life for poor people. It is a very unflattering account but one which I know to be true.
The happy Valley set were a totally useless group of people, a total waste of space and really don't warrant the effort which Juliet Barnes expended on their story. A few years ago I wandered around Karen Blixen's house in Nairobi and only felt a sickening weight in the pit of the stomach - what a poor advertisement these people were for the Empire. However, I have to admit a compelling fascination for Alice de Janze but I suppose that is down to my maleness!
If you have a deep interest in this episode of death and debauchery in Kenya then give it a go - but you may, like me, struggle through most of it.
9 people found this helpful
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on 22 October 2015
Juliet Barnes writes of her exploration of the recent past in Kenya through its buildings. Her companion and inspiration is Solomon, an African with dedication to animals and buildings. In fact it was Solomon and his brave and unrelenting love for the animals against at best indifference and at worst violence,who makes this book.
A thread that runs through this book is the identity of Errol's murderer,dealt with in White Mischief and other books. In the end there are suspects but no conclusive proof. The writing style is plain and attractive, and I found this to be the best of the whodunnit books so far.
I was rooting for Solomon and his battles, and it is refreshing how common interests cross racial lines.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in history and conservation
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on 28 January 2016
I have gone through two thirds of the book and must admit it is not an easy read. Names, events, houses are muddled up and do not appear in any sequence or order. And once when she does find an old old house of which she had been waiting desperately to see, the description is disappointingly covered in a short paragraph - a prime example being Kipipiri House for which she had to work hard to get access to but it all ended up as being a non-event. There are a few pages of photographs including some taken as recent as 2011 but the quality is so poor that they look like watermarks. I must admit the book is more about Solomon, her safari guide, than the actual characters that is trying to portray. Even the conversations with the elderly Kikuyu employees of the former land owners is no more than what they said without a deeper followup of facts gained.

I will admit the author still has lots of friends connected with the colourful lot of the Happy Valley of the past but sadly all their inputs have not been transformed into enjoyable reading.
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on 6 May 2016
This is well researched as far as it was possible to explore the past at that time, but more has come to light since then and might well merit another look at this early 1940s Kenyan nest of Colonial vipers. The facts have been laid out clearly but little is said about the damage and great sadness caused to those on the periphery of this notorious case.
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on 25 July 2017
nice book good price quick delivery
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on 8 November 2017
As usual a superb service, I shall be back.
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on 13 January 2016
I gave it as a Christmas present which was much appreciated. I've yet to borrow it to read it myself.
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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 8 February 2016
Worth every penny and a good read if you like Africa.
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