25786772Who wrote this book and when?
Isak Dineson (the pen name for Baroness Karen von Blixen) wrote both of these; “Africa” was published in 1937 and “Shadows” in 1960.

Has there been a film version?
A film called “Out of Africa” was made starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, it pulls from several of Dineson’s works – it is mainly based on her life more than an exact following of the book.

Who are the important characters?
Baroness von Blixen – the narrator, a Danish woman who has married her distant cousin and lives on a coffee farm in Kenya
Farah – the baroness’s Somali servant, very faithful to her
Denys Finch-Hatton – a professional hunter, Blixen’s lover after her divorce
Kamante – a boy who the baroness takes to a local hospital soon after her arrival, he later becomes a servant and an accomplished cook
Berkeley Cole – an Englishman and a friend of the baroness

What’s it about?
Both books are collections of short stories taken from the author’s time living in Africa. They cover themes of justice, religion, celebration and work as contrasted between the different cultures in Africa and those of the Europeans who are supposedly civilizing the area.

Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
It was mostly made popular by the film, which was produced by the late Sydney Pollack.

Do I recommend you read this book?
If you’re a person who enjoys stories about Africa, strong women, or history – then yes.

How did this book make my list?
I’m one of the aforementioned people.

Has it won any awards?
Not that I can find record of, but the movie won seven Oscars.

Favorite quotes:
“The Negro is on friendly terms with destiny, having been in her hands all his time; she is to him, in a way, his home, the familiar darkness of the hut, deep mould for his roots. He faces any change in life with great calm.” – “Out of Africa” p 24

“What business had I had ever to set my heart on Africa?” – “Shadows on the Grass” p 479

Anything else?
This book has one of the greatest opening lines I’ve ever read.

Personal thoughts:
I always love to read books about Africa, whether they’re written by white people or natives to the continent. I’ve loved learning about Africa since I was young and every book and story I read simply adds to the picture I’m trying to develop in my mind of the place. While I tend to dislike short stories, I will occasionally enjoy those which include the same characters over and over. This book does exactly that. Farah the servant is a wonderful character, almost stronger than the narrator herself. It is so wonderful to read something which differentiates and personalizes each of the separate tribes of Africa – all of them found in a different areas, but overlapping as they move about their homeland. Exactly like the United States – only they have been doing it for centuries longer in Africa.

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