9780140059588 / 014005958X

The Mottled Lizard


Publisher:Penguin Books



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About the book:

This is the sequel to Huxley's wonderful first volume of Kenyan memoirs, The Flame Trees of Thika. Returning to her beloved Africa after the First World War, she, Tilly and Robin set about clearing the overgrown estate and getting it back in working order again. The flame trees have grown wild and the coffee bushes have almost disappeared, so there is much to do. There is a poignancy in the loss of old friends, but a renewed delight in the sights, sounds and smells of the country: the aroma of frangipani trees and dried cowdung, the flat-topped acacias shimmering in the heat of the plains, the herds of lyre-horned impala. Huxley can be achingly romantic and passionate about the things she truly cares about and fears are disappearing: the wildlife, the indigenous peoples, the beauty of Africa itself. Or she can be a fine comic writer, hilariously insouciant about things like an outbreak of bubonic plague on the boat out, for instance, pausing in the Red Sea to dump the corpses overboard. Or the incident with the exploding marmalade in the bathroom. (You'll have to read it for yourself.) All in all, its the same heady mix that made Flame Trees of Thika such a superb book, in turns dazzlingly beautiful and preposterously funny. --Christopher Hart

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