West with the Night--Beryl Markham

The review will be short as I have some conflicted feelings about the book.  At times overwritten, at time dominated by a personality that is none too likable, there remains about the book a sense of adventure, of freshness, of new insight into the whole colonial experience from the colonists' side.  On the other hand, much of the attitude of Ms. Markham, while certainly informed by the prejudices of her time, seems to be remarkably free of the condescension with which one suspects she treated her European friends.

These are the memoirs (whether or not written by Ms. Markham is subject to speculation) of Ms. Markham's time in Africa, from a little girl to an adult pilot.  We see Ms. Markham with all of her blemishes fully in place.  (The incident regarding a person dying of blackwater fever is particularly telling, and it occurs early enough in the book to resonate throughout.)

*** 1/2 Recommended to those who care for Chronicles of the 30s and prominent figures thereof, also as a counterpoint to Katherine Blixen's Out of Africa.


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