Tuesday, October 11, 2011


By turns heart-rending and hilarious, this is Fuller's memoir of her mother, who, it seems at the outset, has not quite managed to forgive her daughter for writing what she calls the "Awful Book" (the title is never named; I imagine she means DON'T LETS GO TO THE DOGS TONIGHT, which laid bare Alexandra's peculiar and at times traumatic childhood).
Prose is lovely and quirky and witty as usual. Opening line: "Our Mum--or Nicola Fuller of Central Africa, as she has on occasion preferred to introduce herself--has wanted a writer in the family as long as either of us can remember, not only because she loves books and has therefore always wanted to appear in them (the way she likes large, expensive hats, and likes to appear in *them*) but also because she has always wanted to live a fabulously romantic life for which she needed a reasonably pliable witness as scribe."
The cover shows Nicola with her first best friend, a chimpanzee, who is dressed in a blue jumper that matches her own. It's all very curious ... otherworldly ... and at times painfully sad. Nicola loses three of her five children, survives a brutal war, and relocates again and again with her husband, the pair of them seeming at various times happily aimless, uneasily restless, and searching for something unnamable. But by the end, it seems that the Awful Book has become something of a joke that the mother and daughter share, and that Nicola's governing characteristic is her resilience.

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