Kuki Gallmann was born in Italy, but as a child dreamed of living in Africa one day. She made the dream come true when she and her second husband bought a large ranch in Kenya. After several years, her husband died in a car crash. Three years later her teen-aged son died, bitten by a snake whose venom he was trying to milk. Rather than turn from Africa to Italy, as her family and Italian friends tried to persuade her to do, Mrs. Gallmann stayed in Kenya and founded the Gallmann Memorial Foundation, with an environmental/conservation focus.
Mrs. Gallmann wrote her prose poetically. My favorite parts of the book were her lovely descriptions of the wildlife and natural beauty of Kenya. Her ability to write extensive and nuanced pictures of the personalities she met impressed me. The story of her grief over the two tragedies in her life did move me.
I did not, however, find the book compelling as a whole. I disliked the mysticism she displayed when writing about death, especially the death of her husband, when she suggests that the daughter she was carrying when her husband died was the reincarnation of her husband. Her husband and son seemed a bit larger-than-life, and I found myself wondering if they could possibly have been quite as wonderful as she describes. She defends one of the affairs she had (with a married man, lest I be misunderstood) after her husband died as 'pure.' She condemns the influence foreigners have had over Africa and Africans, yet she herself both exercises and seeks influence over the land and the people. I concluded the book thinking that Mrs. Gallmann probably thinks too highly of herself.
I do not regret reading the book, but I do not intend to keep the copy I own, having no desire to read it again, or loan it out, or encourage my children to read it. As capacious as my bookshelves are, I must draw the line somewhere.
I have not seen the movie based on the book.