The freight of sadness, stoicism, determination, and great grace under pressure is enormous in these letters, written by Dinesen from the time of her first arrival at Ngong in Kenya as Blor Blixen's wife until her departure 17 years later: divorced, alone, her lover Denys Finch-Hatton killed in an airplane crash, her beloved farm taken away from her management by the board of directors of The Karen Coffee Company, Ltd. in Copenhagen. Addressed almost exclusively are Dinesen's mother, her brother Thomas, and her provocative and censorious Aunt Bess. As the years and hardships mount (divorce, childlessness, parlous finances, loneliness, and always the progressive syphilis that Blor had transmitted to her early on), Dinesen's letters grow ever longer; to Bess in particular are aimed remarkably patient, unpatronizing, but firm-minded essays on feminism, hypocrisy, sexual morality. The spiritual achievement of Dinesen lights these letters from every angle--quite elevating. The letters qua letters, though--being unhurriedly large, serenely argued, crammed with woes and local occurrences (lion hunts, farm doings, servant problems)--are mostly unchewable, cumbersome. For scholars and only the most devoted Dinesen-ites, then: bricks that prefigure the crystal wonder of Out of Africa.