Tag Archives: Leaving Before the Rains Come

WHERE IS HOME AND DOES IT MATTER?

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Leaving Before the Rains Come
Author: Alexandra Fuller
Genre: Memoir
Published: Penguin Press, 2015
Hardcover Edition: 258 pages
Source: Personal copy

Alexandra Fuller’s latest memoir reads in a thrilling page-turning fashion. The reader is immersed in the culture clash between two homes: Southern Africa and Western America. Life growing up in Africa in the 70’s and 80’s could only be lived dangerously. Warring peoples, wild animals, isolated living circumstances in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, diseases such as malaria, not to mention her own wild-eyed eccentric family kept everyone there on the edge of disaster. Life in Wyoming offers material comforts, natural beauty the equal of Africa and a more stable family, at least on the surface. But when one is reared in danger, comfort can almost seem boring. Maybe the rhythm is just wrong?

One of the things to most love about this memoir and its writer is that she never stops writing. The act of writing props up her life. What determination she shows to keep writing in the face of five or six rejected novels, though she was and is a successful magazine writer and now her memoirs are selling, selling, selling.

And indeed she is a gifted writer. Her sentences are jampacked with interesting words, thoughts, composition. Let me find a few to share with you. “The day came and went, and in spite of Psalm 90:10 my father didn’t die.” However, on that warm summer London afternoon, in the revelation of Pammy’s prolonged morning for her son, I saw that our English relatives were just as vulnerable and broken as we were.” “After six months we crashed back toward one another, unable to tolerate the unaccustomed anxiety of ourselves alone and the children’s bewildered sorrow.”

And along the way there are life lessons–– one reason for reading a memoir. “Letting other people row their own boat to shore,” Dad said. “That’s the tricky bit.” This woman never preaches, never sounds above-it-all, never writes pompous or self-righteous.

A few years ago I picked up Alexandra Fuller’s first memoir with the crazy title, Don’t Let’s Go To the Dogs Tonight and didn’t put it down until I had finished. Other books were cast aside, other tasks on hold. Same thing happened with this book. No notes, no setting it aside, just read, and a thrilling ride of a read it is. Fuller can take life’s uncertainties, sorrows and awesome challenges while allowing the reader to feel the sadness and joy with humor. This author loves her family and treats them with love and understanding. In my experience, such kindness is difficult to find in this genre.

These days Ms. Fuller lives in a yurt in Wyoming, and she’s still writing. Don’t miss her work. She imbues it with a passion that is positively invigorating. I’m not sure how I missed her in-between memoir Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness. I intend to find and read that one, too. Which title might you read?

FIVE BOOKS PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT

Yes, I know. They are talking about more than five. These look like they have staying power. We shall see. Do let us know what you think!

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Funny Girl by Nick Hornby
Screen writer and novelist, Hornby is riding the crest. People are talking about this author. His adapted script of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir for the movie Wild has been nominated for an Oscar. This newest book by the author of About A Boy, is a highly anticipated novel about the adventures of one Sophia Straw on her way to becoming a television starlet. Goodreads promises insights and humor. Read more about Hornby at www.nickhornbyofficial.com

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The Girl on A Train by Paula Hawkins
The ads and the articles are everywhere, it seems. The lips of readers who watch for new books of interest open to ask about this book. Are book clubs considering this one? Classified as a thriller, the narrator is Rachel Watson who spends a lot of time on the commuter train as her own life darkens and she watches others from the train. The book has been optioned by DreamWorks. No doubt you will continue to hear more about this one. It rides the coattails of Gone Girl. Book Page reviewer Amy Scribner uses the word slippery to describe this read. To read or not to read, that is the question?

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Leaving Before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller
When I read her first memoir Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight a couple of years ago, I could not put it down. Other books I was reading at the time lay unopened on bedside table, desk, floor, wherever and I read her memoir until I was done. A crazy title I couldn’t believe I had picked up, and then I could not put it down. I told everyone about it whether they wanted to listen or not. Now she has published a new memoir.

She has left Africa, her childhood home; her new home is Wyoming. She deals with the loss of Africa and a disintegrating marriage. It doesn’t sound that enticing, but I know there is a reason to read this book. Catherine Hollis in Book Page says it best: “Fuller’s blend of wry honesty and heartfelt environmental consciousness will resonate with both new readers and longtime admirers of her distinctive style.”

Her last book completely captured my attention. I don’t want to miss this read.

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Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott
Small Victories came out last fall. It is a collection of essays and sits at number 15 on the New York Times Best Seller List. It is not fading into the woodwork. Lamott’s writing can be very powerful. She writes about faith, family and community. I know this and no doubt her other readers will agree: Would that I could improve my ability to listen for and recognize moments of hope and grace that shine a light on life and sweep out the dark corners. I’m hoping to read this one.

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The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Kristin Hannah’s fans are legion. Perhaps you are one of them. Do you have a favorite Kristin Hannah novel? This one is set in France during World War II and focuses on two sisters. If All the Light We Cannot See captured your attention, perhaps you are ready to visit that time and place again. Get a taste of this book at www.kristinhannah.com

Check out these book covers. Publishers love teal this season. I agree, it’s a lovely color.
Do tell which book you will read. Or, which book you think is creating the loudest noise and brightest colors.