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Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness Paperback – June 26, 2012

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Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness + Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood + Leaving Before the Rains Come
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Editorial Reviews

Review

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

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, where she now resides.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (June 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143121340
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143121343
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (250 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,693 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alexandra Fuller is the author of Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight and Scribbling the Cat. She was born in England and grew up in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Zambia.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

132 of 140 people found the following review helpful By Tiger CK on August 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The somewhat eccentrically titled "Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness" is a memoir interwoven with a history of East Africa after the collapse of British colonial rule there. The book is a sequel to Fuller's widely acclaimed "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight." While in her previous work, Fuller primarily gave us a memoir of her own childhood. In "Cocktail Hour" she is more focused on the story of her mother Nicola. Her mother comes across as a fascinating and extravagant person in the memoir. She was born on a small Scottish isle but spent most of her life living in Africa.

Writing about family is always challenging but I admired Amanda's unsparing portrait of Nicola. She paints her as a woman with a unique zest for life and adventure. At the same time, Fuller does not shy away from describing aspects of her parents' worldview that readers may find detestable. She is rather frank in explaining the way her mother romanticized British colonialism in Africa even as the system was falling apart. And she shows how the lives of her family members were impacted by the rising tide of nationalism and civil war that swept Africa during the 1950s and 1960s.

I personally did not read this book because I was interested in Fuller's family, however. I read it because I was interested in the unique view of Africa during this turbulent period that it provided. There is little good writing about Kenya, Zambia and Rhodesia during the 1950s and 1960s and Fuller's account presented a highly interesting perspective on events. I learned a great deal about what transpired politically and socially on the African continent from reading it. If you are interested in Africa or this genre of memoir writing, I would highly recommend the book.
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108 of 117 people found the following review helpful By A. Murray on September 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I loved, loved, loved "Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight" so I ran out and paid full-price for "Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness" as soon as I'd heard it was out. As I tore through through the first 100 pages, I wondered when Fuller would get to something new. She tells the same stories of her childhood, from slightly different perspectives and with a few details added or omitted. Yes, we get the voice of her mother in this volume but it didn't really tell the reader anything new or particularly insightful about Nicola Fuller, who dominates and colors the pages of "Don't Lets..." The added family histories of her parents was the most interesting thing in this book (and actually, those parts were in the first 100 pages). Reading the same book ("Don't Lets...") over again but for the first time was delightful to me. But, all in all, I was disappointed. She wrote this book before and I read this book before. It seems like Fuller wanted to re-live the writing and publishing and success of "Don't Let's..." I'd rather just read and re-read "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight."
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54 of 57 people found the following review helpful By HopewellMom on September 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"There we go then," Mum said, "I'll just get my Uzi and we'll be off...."
"Bullets, lipstick, sunglasses. Off we go...." (p. 28-29).

Alexandra Fuller's family makes you feel much better about your own.

Having lived in the insanity of Kamuzu Banda's Malawi, having watched in horror as Mugabe righted one wrong with another, I rejoice that Ms. Fuller has written another installment in her family's saga. No, it was not right for the Brits to take over Africa and take away from those who were already there. Ms Fuller's story, however, puts a human face on "white Africa"-- not a world not of fanatical white supremasits (of which there were many, many, many) but of hard-working whites who ignored the rights/wrongs and tried to build a life on a continent whose indigenous people are seemingly forever compelled to fight and lose to hold their own land. No one who has not lived there can accurately judge this book. The social mores, the threats to life, the weaknesses of any political system imposed to try to bring someone's definition of "order" have to be lived first-hand to be believed and understood.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By sas on October 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ms. Fuller has written an intriguing story of her parents' lives in [mostly] eastern Africa, their struggles during and after British control and what the white farming experience was [and I guess is] like in that vast continent. She does an excellent job describing the beauty and horrors of living daily life there; particularly touching is the Fullers' deep love for Africa which is quite palpable throughout the book - they just can't imagine living anywhere else and always come back. I'd really like to know these people! No obstacle deters them from scratching out a living on various farms they either own or manage. And it's clear how much Ms. Fuller loves and admires them for their perseverance.

Some of the descriptions of the surroundings and landscapes are so lovely - particularly as evening falls - that I felt as though I were sitting right there with Ms. Fuller and her mother as they reminisce together. Two minor negatives are 1) the book starts off a little jumbled and would have been better had it proceeded chronologically as it does as it gets going, and 2) more pictures and maps of the regions the Fullers lived and traveled in would have been helpful.
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