Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2011
Beautiful remembrance of Kenya in the early 20th century from a child's viewpoint. Touching themes and descriptive elements make this a good read for young and old. Don't get hung up on the sometimes racist coloring; it is part of the time. I suspect the author would have written it differently nowadays.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
What a wonderful book, a wonderful writer, a wonderful world, at least from the child's point of view. Growing up in Kenya, the only child of would-be coffee plantation owners among the Kikuyu tribesmen, Elspeth Huxley comes of age is an unimaginable world which comes to an abrupt end as war begins.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on July 11, 2014
Ever get to the end of a book and contemplate flipping back to the first page and starting all over again? This is a book whose world I just want to continue living in but, like the ending of a book, is a world that just doesn't exist anymore. So much of the book, though it deals with people trying to start a new frontier life in Africa, is really about the ending of things, specifically the end of old Europe with the onset of World War 1.

Elspeth, in the last chapter, writes about how she realized, quite suddenly and with some fright, how strangely interconnected all things are in life. She blames herself for the death of Kate, not because of any direct fault of her own, but the indirect responsibility she had in the wounding of a buffalo. All of a sudden the rational world she felt so sure of was gone and now replaced with uncertainty. One could also quite easily see how people might then turn to superstition and folk magic to explain their place in the universe. Charms, sacrifices, ceremonies, all the ways of life for the native Africans don't then seem so strange when we look at it through the lens of our own uncertainty in the scheme of the universe.

But this one death and this one series of events is, all the while, back-dropped by the war in Europe. Events there of a much larger scale were colliding and would claim the lives of millions of people who were caught up in events they could not foresee or control. Ian being the earliest example of a victim to circumstance.

The whole book is filled with the parallels of their lives and that of WW1: the irrigation trenches being filled with water mirror the trenches of the un-moving fronts, the tribal warfare parallels the conflict between nation states. In some ways the book is as much about what happened to the whole world at the beginning of the 20th century as it is about one young girls' experience growing up in Africa with her pioneering and liberal thinking parents.

Elspeth makes a strong case for how the world should behave. She always details the solutions that people come up with be it how best to grow coffee in Africa, deal with tribal politics, or deal with some unusual neighbors - she is always looking for a way to make things work. And it's no wonder because much of the world was totally breaking down.

But she never becomes sentimental about her experiences. Yes it is a very romantic setting and stunningly beautiful, but Elspeth is a realist who leans towards cautious optimism. The characters in the book earn all their emotions, and there is never any melodrama or silliness here. And a lot of how she makes this work is by seeing the world through such a young persons eyes. She only ever gets to see and hear snippets of what's going on around her so she, like us, have to piece so much together.

This books great strength is that it takes us to that time and place, makes us empathize with this little girl and gets us to see the world for what it could be without ever cheating us emotionally. This is a brilliant story; one of the greatest books I have ever read. In fact, I place this book right alongside Sergey Aksakov's "A Family Chronicle" as one of the finest pieces of writing ever published.

I absolutely adore this novel like nothing else I have ever read.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2015
Filled with the romance and eagerness of youth, a book both a coming of age as well as a sociology of Africa under the infant yolk of her recent colonisation. A beguilingly written, tender account of a fleeting moment in history.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2012
Never has a more readable book been written. This, and the following "Mottled Lizard", are classics of style and exotic frontier life. I value these two books as much as any others in my library.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on September 16, 2014
First, the illustrations are a Major bonus for the price of the book! The story is fascinating, of a time and place most of us have not nor will experience. It is honest and can be unsettlingly raw; I hate to hear of pain to animals, and was undone several times, but this is Africa and a native culture with survival on its mind. Each person was drawn clearly and dispassionately, yet with compelling personalities set in very challenging circumstances. A terrific read on pioneering and the individuals who chose to settle in that harsh, foreign land, the continent, native animals and history- I loved it even when I hated the reality of it.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on July 28, 2014
Overall, The Flame Trees of Thika is a very satisfying read, and I plan to read the other books in the triology. Having just returned from Kenya, it rang true. It dragged in a few places, but was generally quite engaging, both in terms of its descriptions of life in Kenya and its insights into human nature. I looked it up based on fond recollections of the TV version shown on Public Broadcasting many years ago.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on September 6, 2013
I got this book for my wife at her request as a present. She really enjoyed reading this book, so much so that she sat me down and read me some portions of it as well. The author did an excellent job of telling the accounts of her life growing up in the wilds of Africa. She included insights into tribal customs, and human frailties. I think a reading club would enjoy both reading and discussing this book.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on April 28, 2015
This is mostly a book for young teen girls replete with nature discoveries and African bush culture discoveries. All is told with wondering wide- open, innocent eyes. Despite war and hardships, the author's tone is almost always upbeat.

If you know the above starting out, you won't be disappointed and may be pleased. Cannot compare at all with Dinesen or Markham,though.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on June 20, 2014
My husband and I recently returned from a trip to Africa and I was reminded of having seen years ago this wonderful series "The Flame Trees of Thika". I mentioned my desire to see it again and my husband surprised me with the DVD from Amazon. I found the story of Elspeth Huxley's African childhood, the excellent acting and the spectacular scenes of the landscapes and wildlife of Africa well worth 5 stars. It enhanced my own memories of our African trip.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.