Saturday, December 13, 2008
The Africa House
Christina Lamb I don't read a lot of non-fiction. I like non-fiction, I just am usually lulled by the total non-thinking of paperback mysteries.
I am so glad I took this one home from the library. One of the other librarians had pulled it off teh shelf and was thinking about reading it. She had too many at home already, so she told me to take it.
Shiwa House is a traditional English Manor house built by Sir Stewart Gore-Brown in the early 20th century in Northern Rhodesia(Zambia now). Lamb is a reporter who stumbled upon the neglected manor in the late 20th century. She did some very good research and tells the story of Gore-Brown with depth and emotion. He was so obsessed with building his piece of England in the bush that sometimes he could not see what was around him. It follows his personal triumphs and struggles. At its grandest Shiwa House employed hundreds of Africans and then just 30 years after his death it was a rotted shell of itself.
The story is more of Gore-Browns life and just touches on the decline of the English Empire and African independence, which, surprisingly, Gore-Brown supported.
I really felt like I was there in Africa. The weather, that animals, the people all come alive in Lambs dialogue.
If you read no other non-fiction this year, read this one!