Under the Sun
Priscilla Napier, A Late Beginner
Priscilla Napier grew up in Egypt during the last golden years of the Edwardian Age. Her she brings to life that far-off world – the house and its devoted Egyptian servants, the desert picnics with Nanny, the visits to Cairo Zoo, the afternoons playing in the grounds of the Gezira Sporting Club – and the long summers in England among their mother’s family, as the First World War began to take its tragic toll of uncles and cousins. It is a wonderful evocation of a place, a time and a climate of mind – a book that, as Penelope Lively writes in her preface, ‘ranks quite simply with the greatest accounts of how it is to be a child’.
Elspeth Huxley, The Flame Trees of Thika
When Elspeth Huxley’s family arrived in Nairobi in 1913, British East Africa was still a Garden of Eden, virtually untouched by the destructive hand of man. It was also a land of dreams, a place for the recouping of lost fortunes by those who hadn’t managed things very well elsewhere. Elspeth Huxley evokes both the harshness and the beauty of the life that, against all the odds, they managed to create, the mutually dependent society of those early white settlers, and the effect of Africa and its native population on the imagination of a solitary and self-sufficient child.