As part of the research for my short story collection, I’ve been reading memoirs by women who lived in parts of the world other than where they were born. I just finished Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen, who moved from Denmark to run a farm in Kenya.
The passages where Dinesen describes the landscape tend to be particularly lyrical and strong. The book can also be frustrating, though: despite her careful, anthropologist-like eye, Dinesen never manages to escape the racial paradigms of her time.
Note: I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’m guessing they cut a lot out. Dinesen’s relationship with Denys Finch-Hatton is only a small — though moving — portion of the memoir. I have, however, been listening to the film’s soundtrack all month.
Last night I started West with the Night by Beryl Markham — another fiercely independent woman living in Kenya during the first half of the twentieth century. Although I have a feeling that Markham and Dinesen* may strike me as quite different from one another.
*Interesting side note: There are rumors both Dinesen and Markham were romantically involved with Denys Finch Hatton.
I didn’t get more than a couple dozen pages into West with the Night yesterday, but I like it so far.
Any pre-WWII memoirs you all recommend?
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