Review: Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller
Title: Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
Author: Fuller, Alexandra
Length: 256 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography
Publisher / Year: Penguin Press / 2011
Source: SantaThing through LibraryThing
Why I Read It: It was a gift! Plus it sounded really interesting.
Date Read: 06/08/12
I enjoyed but didn’t love Fuller’s first memoir, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight because I was a little put off (as I always am) at her descriptions of others. Some of them seemed a bit harsh and I wondered how her family, in particular, would take it. In this book, we see that her mother especially did not actually take it very well. In this book Fuller rectifies things by writing a memoir of her mother, and explaining much of why her mother may come across the way that she does.
Nicola Fuller is an amazing woman and in this book we see why this is so. The chapters in the book alternate between present day and her past, slowly going through much of what made her who she is. This included growing up in Kenya, her time in England, business failures, the death of children, and more. Written in a very conversational style, we get to see the interaction between the members of the family (including the jabs Nicole now makes about the ‘horrid book’ Alexandra Fuller might write).
While Fuller’s first book seems, in my memory, to be more of an adventure tale, this one is more like sifting through memories. Some of the memories are sad (many actually), others are happy or adventurous, but together we see how a family came together and how one woman learned to live through everything that happened in her life and continue to thrive despite all odds. Another interesting aspect was the ways in which the family disagreed over certain events and the ways that memory worked for all of them – it was neat to see this played out in a memoir and discussed.
I definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys memoirs, family stories, reading about extraordinary women, or who like reading about other places, cultures, and lives.