I DREAMED OF AFRICA by Kuki Gallmann


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 A further addition to the collective writings of that band of well-born European women who go out to Kenya, suffer personal tragedies, but find fulfillment and themselves in the demi-Edens they can afford to create. As a young girl, Italian-born Gallmann yearned to go to Africa: ``...it was a memory carried in my genes. That urge to fly home like swallows.'' Divorced, with a young son, and nearly crippled by a serious automobile accident, she first made a brief visit to Kenya at the age of 25. Three years later, Gallmann and her new husband, Paolo, a widower with two daughters, returned and purchased the enormous Ol Ari Nyro ranch on the edge of the great Rift Valley. A place of great beauty, it was also known for its ``abundance and variety of wildlife, mainly black rhino, elephant and buffalo.'' Here Kuki and Paolo spent idyllic days tracking elephants, hunting buffalos, and building a house. They vacationed on the Kenyan coast, where they fished; flew planes here and there at whim; and found amply time and help for frequent and abundant entertainment. But Gallmann was haunted by an impending sense of tragedy. In 1980, her beloved Paolo was killed in car crash; three years later, so Emanuelle died from snakebite. Devastated but resilient, Gallmann, with the help of people like Richard Leakey, decided to turn the ranch into a living memorial for her husband and son, dedicated to the preservation of the local plants and wildlife. Lots of game-watching, breathtaking sunsets, and loyal tribesmen-all the staples of the old African Raj are present, with a moving personal story thrown in as well. But the prose is overblown and the realities of current Africa ignored, leaving simply a diverting read for uncritical nostalgia buffs.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-670-83612-5
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1991


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