Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness (Paperback)
The author’s mother, Nicola Fuller, is clearly a force of nature. Hailing from Scotland but living most of her life in central and east Africa, she is of seriously hardy stock—the kind that is so admirable and interesting to read about but perhaps less comfortable to actually live with. Unconventional, larger-than-life, fearless, fierce, daunting and undaunted are among her many epithets. Suffice it to say that she is one of the most complicated, fascinating, charismatic and problematic characters I’ve ever encountered. If she had lived in ancient Greece, her life would be sung by the likes of Sophocles and Aristophanes—in other words, equal parts tragedy and comedy, with large doses of hubris thrown in for good measure.— From Emily's Picks
A story of survival and war, love and madness, loyalty and forgiveness, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is an intimate exploration of Fuller’s parents, whom readers first met in Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, and of the price of being possessed by Africa’s uncompromising, fertile, death-dealing land. We follow Tim and Nicola Fuller hopscotching the continent, restlessly trying to establish a home. War, hardship, and tragedy follow the family even as Nicola fights to hold on to her children, her land, her sanity. But just when it seems that Nicola has been broken by the continent she loves, it is the African earth that revives and nurtures her. Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is Fuller at her very best.
Alexandra Fuller is the author of several memoirs: Travel Light, Move Fast, Leaving Before the Rains Come, and Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight.
About the Author
Alexandra Fuller was born in England in 1969. In 1972, she moved with her family to a farm in southern Africa. She lived in Africa until her midtwenties. In 1994, she moved to Wyoming. Fuller is the author of several memoirs, including Travel Light, Move Fast, Leaving Before the Rains Come, and Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight.
“Electrifying…Writing in shimmering, musical prose… Ms. Fuller manages the difficult feat of writing about her mother and father with love and understanding, while at the same time conveying the terrible human costs of the colonialism they supported… Although Ms. Fuller would move to America with her husband in 1994, her own love for Africa reverberates throughout these pages, making the beauty and hazards of that land searingly real for the reader.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Ten years after publishing Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, Alexandra (Bobo) Fuller treats us in this wonderful book to the inside scoop on her glamorous, tragic, indomitable mother…Bobo skillfully weaves together the story of her romantic, doomed family against the background of her mother’s remembered childhood.” —The Washington Post
“Another stunner… The writer's finesse at handling the element of time is brilliant, as she interweaves near-present-day incidents with stories set in the past. Both are equally vivid… With "Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness" Alexandra Fuller, master memoirist, brings her readers new pleasure. Her mum should be pleased.” —Cleveland Plain - Dealer
“Fuller's narrative is a love story to Africa and her family. She plumbs her family story with humor, memory, old photographs and a no-nonsense attitude toward family foibles, follies and tragedy. The reader is rewarded with an intimate family story played out against an extraordinary landscape, told with remarkable grace and style.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“[Fuller] conveys the magnetic pull that Africa could exert on the colonials who had a taste for it, the powerful feeling of attachment. She does not really explain that feeling—she is a writer who shows rather than tells—but through incident and anecdote she makes its effects clear, and its costs.”—The Wall Street Journal
“[A]n artistic and emotional feat.”—The Boston Globe
“An eccentric, quixotic and downright dangerous tale with full room for humor, love and more than a few highballs.”—Huffington Post
“Cocktail Hour [Under the Tree of Forgetfulness] subtly explores the intersections of personality, history, and landscape in ways that are continually fresh and thoughtful.”—Charleston Post and Courier
“Gracefully recounted using family recollections and photos, the author plumbs the narrative with a humane and clear-eyed gaze—a lush story, largely lived within a remarkable place and time.”—Kirkus Reviews
“In this sequel to her 2001 memoir, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, which her unflattered mum calls the ‘Awful Book,’ Duller gives a warm yet wry account of her British parents’ arduous life in Africa. . . . With searing honesty and in blazingly vibrant prose, Fuller re-creates her mother’s glorified Kenyan girlhood and visits her forever-wild parents at their Zambian banana and fish farm today. The result is an entirely Awesome Book.”—More Magazine
“Fuller brings Africa to life, both its natural splendor and the harsher realities of day-to-day existence, and sheds light on her parents in all their humanness—not a glaring sort of light, but the soft equatorial kind she so beautifully describes in this memoir.”—Bookpage
“Fuller revisits her vibrant, spirited parents, first introduced in Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight (2001), which her mother referred to as that ‘awful book’. . . . This time around, Nicola is well aware her daughter is writing another memoir, and shares some of her memories under the titular Tree of Forgetfulness, which looms large by the elder Fullers’ house in Zambia. Fuller’s prose is so beautiful and so evocative that readers will feel that they, too, are sitting under that tree. A gorgeous tribute to both her parents and the land they love.”—Booklist, starred review
“A sardonic follow-up to her first memoir about growing up in Rhodesia circa the 1970s, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, this work traces in wry, poignant fashion the lives of her intrepid British parents. . . . Fuller achieves another beautifully wrought memoir.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review