In Kenya with Baroness Karen Blixen

I’m on the move. I was in Newark, NJ yesterday but haven’t written my review of that book yet because I didn’t have my computer again until today. Meanwhile, I’ve moved on to Kenya to learn about life on a coffee plantation with adventurous Karen Blixen, AKA Isak Dinesen.

July to September Goals:

  • Orange July 1 2 3
  • Around the World: Africa: 1, 2 Asia 1 South America 1 2 3 4 5 6 Other countries 1 2 3 4
  • 1001 Books 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
  • Nobel: July Aug Sept
  • Pulitzer: July Aug Sept
  • Great African Reads: July Aug Sept

Out of AfricaOut of Africa by Isak Dinesen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Out of Africa is less a single story than a series of vignettes arranged thematically to form the whole. It is like a collage of beautiful images of life on Karen Blixen‘s coffee plantation. Clearly Blixen loved this land, its people, and its wildlife. She embraced the opportunities that her life there presented. She attended the tribal ceremonial dances. She brokered resolutions of of conflicts among her workers, using accepted tribal methods, but also with a written and signed contract. She hunted lions, and left a tea party she was hosting to go flying and see a nearby buffalo herd. She tells tales of cultural differences and interactions among the local and immigrant tribes. The language in the book is lush and beautiful. Blixen has a lovely eye for details and skill for drawing wise and witty conclusions from them. She must have been an amazing woman to know. You have to love a woman who writes things like “we had great adventures with lions.” You can picture her bravely heading out to take on the lions hunting on her farm or taking flights over the beautiful countryside, which would have terrified many others. On the other hand, she was certainly a creature of her time and her native Scandinavian culture. At times she seems sincerely connected to the Africans, but at other times, she seems to view them from a superior distance. Her comparisons of Africans to wildlife would be less annoying if she made similar comparisons about Caucasians. The fact that there is no central underlying plot means that, as with The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights, there is a sense that you could stop reading at any point and feel that you’ve essentially “got” the book. If I fell asleep listening to this on audio, I’m not sure that I would care enough to rewind and hear the pieces I missed. For these reasons, despite the beautiful writing, I am giving this only 3 stars.

View all my reviews


About Beth Parks Aronson

I am Associate Professor of Psychology at Lamar University. Previously, I was a psychologist in private practice in Jenkintown, PA where I specialized in anxiety disorders and working with people living with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. I am a little addicted to good literature. Ok, a lot addicted.
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One Response to In Kenya with Baroness Karen Blixen

  1. Pingback: Bout of Books Readathon | Beth's List Love

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