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on 11 June 2017
I personally enjoyed the book. It gives a fascinating insight to the life of the Sambaru tribe & the Masai warriors. I appreciate that it is hard to comprehend how an intelligent white woman from Switzerland would want to get involved with someone that has a completely basic, difficult & mundane lifestyle. I guess Love moves in mysterious ways & she could not imagine life without this Masai warrior. I have to give her credit for enduring the difficulties of this lifestyle & her reason for returning to Switzerland was purely because she was accused of committing infidelities & she couldn't cope with his extreme jealousies. This book and her subsequent books are all very well-written considering her first language is not English.
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on 18 June 2017
What courage and determination. She followed her heart but in the end had to do what was best for her and her daughter. What as great read. It gives more insight into how cultures are different.
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on 5 October 2017
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on 4 May 2017
Interesting book
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on 29 June 2013
Took this book on holiday recently and because it was such an interesting story managed to finish it in the 10 days I was away. I could picture her and her Masai warrior and it was such an enjoyable read. I really could not put the book down.
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on 19 October 2017
Good read. After a while it is hard not to judge the author for staying as long as she did.
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on 25 April 2011
This is one of those books that on the face of it should be fascinating, but a clunky style (maybe partly due to translators, but it's hard to say) and the fact that Hoffman seems (to put it generously) a little naive, make it a hard book to really like.

It's marketed as a cross-cultural love story, a woman doing everything possible to be with the man she adores, but there's precious little actual love. A bad case of lust, though. Rather than a love story, it would be more realistic to frame it as a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of trying to base a real relationship on the flimsy foundation of mere physical attraction. Hoffman sees a man she fancies, relentlessly pursues him based on looks alone, then appears genuinely surprised when the relationship founders. Considering the only thing they have in common is her sex drive...

There are good points - one is (albeit reluctantly) forced to admire the courage with which she dives wholeheartedly into this new adventure, but it's hard to get past the fact that she is incredibly naive and to ignore her total lack of reality. The reader will pick up some interesting cultural information and get an insight into the clash between cultures. However, like many other reviewers I find Hoffman's naivety-bordering-on-stupidity frustrating and in the end a huge turn off in reading the book. Too much of the time I just wanted to scream at her to face reality.

It's sad that a reasonably intelligent, mature woman could be so blind to the difference between love and lust, and it gradually gets too plain irritating that she is behaving like a hormone-riddled teenager. No matter how much money she throws at the problem (an irreconcilable cultural chasm that the clueless Hoffman has no hope of bridging) it won't go away; it probably says something about the culture and values in our society that this also seems to be Hoffman's only idea of how to improve the situation.

It also feels uncomfortably voyeuristic and exploitative. One can't help wondering if she actually asked any of her Kenyan in laws whether it was OK to publish their experiences and culture when she got back to Switzerland.

In the end, it's interesting, but it does not live up to the hype and it was hard enough to plough through the once. I came away from it feeling faintly like I needed a really good shower from the cultural insensitivity, the cluelessness, the idiocy of this woman. Marketing clearly gave it an edge in getting in the bestseller lists, but don't be fooled - this is a book to borrow from a friend or from the library before you part with your hard earned money. It's not a book that is going to be re-read many times.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 9 April 2014
A memoir set in Kenya that will evoke a strong response in the reader.


That is probably a bit of a daring thing to say, I feel, but it is one of the few books I have read where I have experienced a medley of emotions, and judging by reviews across the internet I am not alone.

Corinne Hofmann from Biel in Switzerland travels to Kenya with her then boyfriend Marco. Within a few hours travelling to Mombasa she has spotted Lketinga, a Masai warrior in full regalia, and responds to him as though struck by lightening. She is in awe of his sheer presence. Marco, her boyfriend no longer makes the cut and she parts from him fairly promptly, as she now only has eyes for ‘her warrier’. She seeks him out at every opportunity, which almost becomes obsessional and stalkerish; she seems to know that this man is going to be the love of her life. She returns to her home in Switzerland and sells up her successful clothing store, planning her trip back to Africa. Never mind that she and Lketinga don’t have a language in common, and that the cultures are utterly polarised. She takes several months to sort her affairs in Europe, whilst listening to indigenous music, which maintains her link to Kenya.

Finally she decamps to find him, and together they make a life, first in Mombasa and then in faraway Barsaloi, his home. Here they live in a traditional home, a manyatta, a simple hut. Water has to be collected, cooking and chai are cooked on a small brazier. There are many cultural differences that leave the author rather surprised and at times angry and upset. She seems to have done little research about what it might mean to live amongst the Samburu people on a daily basis. And this is what makes the memoir such a gripping read. Corinne seems genuinely taken aback by many of the situations in which she finds herself, but love is her driver, and at first seems to conquer all (yes, that feels so cheesy, but her innocent yet focussed conviction seem to drive her onwards, despite hurdles, cultural differences, dirt, pestilence, lack of transport infrastructure, and Omo which is used for washing everything, from clothes to people).

What is love, one may ask? In this memoir it is the couple connection from her to him, but it is unclear how he feels about her. She goes about wooing him with a certainty that borders on the narcissistic – he is part of her plan and that plan will be executed at all costs. She approaches her new life with a naivety that is, frankly, shocking: simple research might have thrown up that kissing for the Masai people is contemptible. She is upset when she learns that men can neither eat with women, nor eat meat touched by a woman; that the sexes may only drink tea together; and that she and her daughter are expected to undergo a clitoridectomy. She smartly manages to side-step the latter.

Much of what she describes is her response to, at times, catastrophic situations in her new world. She can sometimes bleat on about her difficult situation, and she does spend a huge amount of time crying and suppressing her anger. She puts herself through an inordinate amount of suffering which feels at some unconscious level quite self destructive – whether arduous and neck breaking journeys through the jungle and bush, or dealing with miscommunication and violence. She then contracts malaria and hepatitis, yet still battles on. It is the, at times, deranged determination to make a go of her new situation that left me vacillating between pity, empathy for the delusional belief that things will work out, and finally exasperation. Gradually, as the domestic violence increases, her resolve disintegrates. It is a sad situation.

The writing is curious to say the least. It is clearly written from the heart, easy to read, yet could do with a little refining. It became extremely irritating that she described Lketinga as ‘my warrior’ or ‘my darling’, as though frequent use of either term could somehow bind him to her more. And exclamation marks were used like a scattergun to underline some very difficult encounters. But Peter Millar’s translation was good and made it very readable (we first became acquainted with him when we reviewed his travelogue set in Cuba: Slow Train to Guantanamo).

So, if you want a gripping read that will get your emotions churning, then take a chance on this book. You will come away having learned so much about Masai traditions and life in Kenya!
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on 28 September 2010
I was really disappointed by this book. It isn't really a romance story at all, it's just about a naive, selfish young woman who decided she wanted a man and unashamedly did everything she could to get and then keep him.
In a way I admire her bravery in leaving behind her life in Switzerland, including her family and her business, to try a new life in Kenya. However, as you begin reading the book it's obvious from the start that it will never work. Corinne is like a teenager with a crush, obsessed with someone that she doesn't even know and this makes her come across as naive and a bit shallow.
There are parts of the book when I found myself feeling sorry for her, like when she was ill with malaria and when she was dealing with her husband's jealous rages. However, these events are in a way her own fault - she clearly wasn't taking any anti-malarial medication and her husband's jealousy was a cultural difference rather than a fault of his. When things go wrong, her response seems to be to simply burst into tears and expect sympathy. She always seems to expect other people to help her out as well, rather than sorting problems out herself. I appreciate that things were difficult for her, but if she had done a little more research before giving her comfortable Swiss life up, then it may have been easier.
When Corinne eventually has to return to Switzerland with her tail between her legs, it isn't really a surprise at all and it's difficult to feel any sympathy for her.
Having said that, I would say the book is worth a read because it does give a fascinating insight into the Masai culture. And the author, although hugely irritating, makes this a compelling read in a 'love to hate it' kind of way. But get it out from your local library, I wouldn't waste any money on it!!
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on 18 January 2014
This is a fascinating and true story, but if you are expecting Booker Prize writing, you will not find it here. The author does not set out to produce a great work of literature, and so this is a post-dated diary rather than a novel. The English translation is poor with some annoying grammatical errors. It is narrated by the author, and although written some time after the events, she relates her story in vivid detail and recalls her feelings and emotions with great clarity.
Other reviewers have complained of not liking the central character, referring to her selfishness and naivety; yet in many ways, her openness and honesty are refreshing; she makes no attempt to paint herself as a heroine; even in those incidents where she did indeed act heroically, she relates the events in a matter-of-fact style. So she is certainly not a perfect "central character", she is a real human being. This adds rather than detracts from the book.
The diary style caused me to skip some of the earlier parts as she described almost every minute of her experiences, and I came close to putting the book aside; however, as the love affair developed, the story engrossed me and I finished the book in a few short sittings.
I have just returned from Tanzania (some few hundred miles south of the location of the story) and had met some Masai people both in their home villages and outside, so I had a particular fascination with this book. Had I read it before my Tanzanian visit, I would have doubted the veracity of much of what she wrote. I might not have believed quite how culturally different the Masai are from western people, but I know that remaining with the Masai for a number of years was an astonishing achievement.
This is a unique and captivating excerpt from a rather extraordinary life.
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