9780375403583 / 0375403582

Rules of the Wild: A Novel





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About the book:

Things have certainly changed in Kenya since the 1930s, when Baroness Karen Blixen (a.k.a. Isak Dinesen, author of Out of Africa) had a farm at the foot of the Ngong Hills. In Francesca Marciano's Rules of the Wild, the Blixen spread has become an affluent white suburb of Nairobi, home to the tony "Karen" Shopping Mall and populated by a new breed of narcissistic young expatriates and second-generation white Africans. Esme, the beautiful twentysomething Italian narrator, lands in Kenya by happenstance, seeking to escape a painful past and the recent death of her beloved father. Captivated by the sheer physical beauty of the landscape and the raw honesty of her new "tribe," Esme is further ensnared by her love for two dynamic men--one a gentle 1990s version the Great White Hunter, the other an angry journalist obsessed by the carnage of Somalia and Rwanda. In her eminently readable novel, Marciano creates a hip, knowing set of characters who are ironically aware that their easy lifestyle, supported by trust funds and cheap labor, contrasts darkly with the poverty and decay of east Africa. Esme, an intense and thoughtful observer of the scene, struggles not only with the desire to test herself, "to love without illusion, to love without feeling safe", but with what it means to be white in Africa, living in bizarre isolation from the native culture, drawing spiritual sustenance from the land but protected from the continent's turmoil. Finally, the passion she develops for Kenya roots her and gives her purpose, a home. As one of her friends observes, "I'll tell you what it is about this place.... It sentences you to freedom ... you are constantly reminded of what it means to be free and to be alive. And then it becomes difficult to settle for anything less than this." --Marianne Painter

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