Thursday, 28 April 2011

Leaves from the Fig Tree by Diana Duff

Title: Leaves From The Fig Tree
Author: Diana Duff
Publisher: Rebel ePublishers
ISBN: 9780986973116

Rating: 3.5/5

The cover on this represents part of the book and where you can find yourself transported to within its pages.

This is the autobiography of Diana Duff which takes readers from Ireland to Africa and back again, covering politics and relationships within Diana's large sphere.  My favourite character is Molly Reilly - larger than life and although the chief maid within Duff's grandparents household, she is the hub of the house and comes across as a fantastic person to have around...not just a servant, but someone who knew all the comings and going of the household as well as the gossip!

The relationships within the book are extremely varied, with some really enjoyable people,  a couple of inspirational ones such as Muss Manning and some who consider being ill above their station....a lot of class expectations were shown from Diana's grandparents.  The book is set in a time where it was taboo to be divorced and emotions weren't shown or shared, so Diana's grandparents came across to me as being very stern, unemotional and uncaring in most places.  They certainly didn't go out of their way to make things enjoyable for Diana and her father, and their emotional withdrawal causes a gaping hole where a relationship should be between parents and son and shows their contrary nature.

There's some fascinating insights into different cultures and tribes which Diana fondly recalls from her time in Africa.  There are also some really harsh realities which came from living in Africa when races weren't allowed to mix.  Having not known much about the history of Africa, I was appauled at some of the things that went on which Diana gives insights into and personal accounts of.    I found it dissapointing there wasn't a glossary or timeline to refer to, as there are some African and Irish words which I didn't know the meaning of whilst reading.  The contrast of fear and threat from terrorists came across loud and clear, and was in stark contrast to the haven that Nanyuki offered.

Overall a good read which speed me away to places I've not been to and made me aware of politics and very harsh realities of Africa, as well as the possibilities that existed for those in high society.

Book synopsis:
Born in Africa but  Irish by descent, Diana  Duff wentto live, aged two, with her grandparents in a Georgian stately home, Annes Grove, set in world-renowned gardens.  Enveloped by this rich tapestry, her world seemed magical – the Judas tree reputed to flower only on Good Friday; rare rhododendrons from Tibet; a Chinese coffin tree and blue meconopsis poppies – with talk of horses and fishing juxtaposed with tales of banshees, ráths and the foxy-haired ghost, visits from Elizabeth Bowen, Vita Sackville-West, David Cecil and many others.
Aged 18, she returned to Africa to a father she scarcely knew; to Ruanda and Uganda; to crystal lakes and forest gorillas; to Kenya, where she met the legendary Grogan and Raymond Hook who raced cheetahs in Haringay, England; where she doubled for Grace Kelly in Mogambo; a transfer to Johannesburg, where she challenged the authorities at the height of apartheid – and emerged victorious.
With humour, eloquence, empathy and candour, Diana shares her adventures and her arrival at a place from her childhood, where family truths are learned, along with the realisation that Africa has real magic all of its own.
Source - many thanks to the publishers, a review copy was received in return for an honest review.

1 comment:

Jules (The Great, The Good and The Bad) said...

Interesting review, this is probably a book that I wouldn't have picked up but now I am a bit intrigued.