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Customer Review

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Love story?? Not much..., 25 April 2011
This review is from: The White Masai (Paperback)
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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