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Too Close to the Sun: The Audacious Life and Times of Denys Finch Hatton Paperback – July 14, 2009
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
He was schooled at Eton, which remained in his memory as his happiest years. He was admired there for his good looks, ability at sports, and his wit.Read more ›
First, the good: The opening of the book is well done. Using evocative language, she sets out the story and her motivations for writing it. She goes on to place her characters in history, describing both personal and political backgrounds. And this is the real strength of the book; Wheeler manages to conjure the mood of the time in which Denys lived and this goes a long way to explaining him. Looking at the accompanying pictures, you can almost imagine how he moved and spoke. The other key strength of the book is that it was meticulously researched. There are myriad entertaining stories about minor characters in the book, from Beryl Markham to Bror Blixen to the hedonists of the Happy Valley set.
Now the not so good: Wheeler clearly dislikes Karen Blixen. This would be fine if there were some objective reasons to back it up, but there simply aren't. Wheeler goes on and on about Blixen's histrionics and neediness and takes numerous shots at her abilities as a writer. By the book's midpoint the cattiness is bordering on the pathological. Apart from a grudging complement to Karen's "endurance" at the book's close, it seems she can do no right - especially in contrast to the supremely English Denys. And this "English good" while "others bad" runs throughout the book, so much so that I began to wonder if there wasn't a kind of cultural myopia at work. What Wheeler attacks as Karen's grandiosity (when she compares herself to a retreating Napoleon) was probably really an example of the Danish sense of humour, viz. bathos (read some Kierkegaard to see that in action!Read more ›
It turns out it WAS too good to be true.
Finch-Hatton left little to no record of his own life. There are no diaries and very, very few letters. My burning questions were: What is the interior world of a charming, dashing adventurer like? What is he thinking while he's busy making life brighter, sweeter, and more exciting for others? Wheeler has no more idea than anyone else. Finch-Hatton has left no record of what his life was like, from his own point of view.
Aside from Blixen and Markham, whose portraits of Finch-Hatton are already well known, his nearest and dearest didn't sit down to describe his character, his thoughts or hidden sides. I recognized huge sections of OUT OF AFRICA and WEST WITH THE NIGHT rephrased here, with additional comments pulled from research into Blixen or Markham's life, plumped up with (generally fascinating) cultural and historical context and (generally very clever) anecdotes and asides. But this was an enhanced reading of Blixen or Markham's life, nothing new, and at a real distance from the actual subject of this biography.
I learned a lot about a particular moment in the history of British East Africa.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Loved it ..... but then, I love Africa and enjoy reading about this place in time, all the players, the intrigue, the life style, etc.Published 2 days ago by Emily Reynolds
Wonderfully atmospheric as well as enlightening about a little known period of English colonial history. Very well-written. An excellent companion book to "Out of Africa."Published 3 months ago by Richard Teach
Loved "Out of Africa." Wish I had read the book first. Very informative.Published 3 months ago by Fran
For those who saw the film "Out of Africa", this is a detailed biography of the leading male, companion and lover of Karen Blixen. Denys Finch Hatton. Read morePublished 4 months ago by John Turnbull
Thought this would be fictional like Circling the Sun, was a biography instead, very disappointing.Published 4 months ago by Kathy Parr
Mr.Finch Hatton certainly lead an exciting life. However, parts of this book were really dry and dull. Read morePublished 5 months ago by J. Gaston