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.
Gerald Durrell, My Family & Other Animals
In 1935 the Durrell family sold their house and ‘like a flock of migrating swallows’ fled from the depressing grey damp of an English summer to the Mediterranean warmth and colour of Corfu. For Gerry, this was where paradise began. For the next five years, despite his mother’s anxious attempts to educate him, he was allowed to run wild, glorying in the freedom and beauty of the island.
My Family & Other Animals is a perfect family book for reading aloud, a funny, magical evocation of a boyish paradise which has been a favourite with readers of all ages since it was first published over sixty years ago.