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New York Times Bestseller"One of the gutsiest memoirs I've ever read. And the writing--oh my god the writing." --Entertainment Weekly A child of the Rhodesian wars and daughter of two deeply complicated parents, Alexandra Fuller is no stranger to pain. But the disintegration of Fuller’s own marriage leaves her shattered. Looking to pick up the pieces of her life, she finNew York Times Bestseller"One of the gutsiest memoirs I've ever read. And the writing--oh my god the writing." --Entertainment Weekly A child of the Rhodesian wars and daughter of two deeply complicated parents, Alexandra Fuller is no stranger to pain. But the disintegration of Fuller’s own marriage leaves her shattered. Looking to pick up the pieces of her life, she finally confronts the tough questions about her past, about the American man she married, and about the family she left behind in Africa. A breathtaking achievement, Leaving Before the Rains Come is a memoir of such grace and intelligence, filled with such wit and courage, that it could only have been written by Alexandra Fuller.Leaving Before the Rains Come begins with the dreadful first years of the American financial crisis when Fuller’s delicate balance—between American pragmatism and African fatalism, the linchpin of her unorthodox marriage—irrevocably fails. Recalling her unusual courtship in Zambia—elephant attacks on the first date, sick with malaria on the wedding day—Fuller struggles to understand her younger self as she overcomes her current misfortunes. Fuller soon realizes what is missing from her life is something that was always there: the brash and uncompromising ways of her father, the man who warned his daughter that "the problem with most people is that they want to be alive for as long as possible without having any idea whatsoever how to live." Fuller’s father—"Tim Fuller of No Fixed Abode" as he first introduced himself to his future wife—was a man who regretted nothing and wanted less, even after fighting harder and losing more than most men could bear.Leaving Before the Rains Come showcases Fuller at the peak of her abilities, threading panoramic vistas with her deepest revelations as a fully grown woman and mother. Fuller reveals how, after spending a lifetime fearfully waiting for someone to show up and save her, she discovered that, in the end, we all simply have to save ourselves.An unforgettable book, Leaving Before the Rains Come is a story of sorrow grounded in the tragic grandeur and rueful joy only to be found in Fuller’s Africa....

Title : Leaving Before the Rains Come
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781594205866
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Leaving Before the Rains Come Reviews

  • Julie Christine
    2019-05-22 02:30

    Early in Leaving Before The Rains Come, Alexandra Fuller recalls a Q&A session that followed a reading she gave in Dallas in 2010. An audience member asked her, “Do you consider yourself African?”Fuller notes that the writer with whom she shared the stage, a woman she does not identify by name but describes her so that we know it is Nigerian author and activist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, would never have been asked this question. That is because Alexandra Fuller, of English and Scottish descent, is white. Did I consider myself African? The truth is, I longed to say, “Yes,” as I had years ago. Even, defensively, “Of course, yes.” I longed to have an identity so solid, so obvious, and so unassailable that I, or anyone else, could dig all the way back into it for generations and generations and find nothing but more and further proof of the bedrock of my Africanness.I said, “Not anymore. Not especially.”In a memoir of heartbreak and endings, of confusion and lost dreams, this may be the saddest moment for me. It seems to encapsulate all that Alexandra Fuller has lost in her bold and astonishing life: her country, her family, her way. Alexandra Fuller’s 2002 memoir of her childhood in southern Africa, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, is one of the most evocative I’ve read. The follow-up, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, delves into Fuller’s mother’s life—and her father’s, after this irrepressible couple meet and marry and take on southern Africa—a story less touching perhaps, but no less fascinating. Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight ends on Fuller’s wedding day. She is twenty-two, feverish with malaria, and helplessly in love with American Charlie Ross, an adventure guide ten years her senior.The moment I learned that Alexandra Fuller had written a new installment in her exploration of self and family, I got in line. I’d fallen hard for her fearless, beautiful writing. Her family’s stoic humor in the face of disaster amazed me, their flaws and eccentricities charmed. The initial chapters of Leaving Before The Rains Come make for awkward reading if you are not familiar with the Fullers and their life in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Zambia; the references to past events are delivered with a kind of insider’s shorthand. It isn’t until Fuller reaches to the point of denying her Africanness at the reading in Texas that she approaches the book’s central theme: her failing marriage.Although Fuller recounts stories from her family’s unique past to color in the lines of her present, this memoir is really about a woman, alone and disconnected. Fuller gently probes at the reasons why her marriage became intractable. She is careful not to assign blame and she is protectively oblique about her children, now young adults. Charlie seems to offer the best of both hemispheres that pull at Alexandra: he understands her smoldering love for Africa, yet his very Americanness represents the stability she craves. He is older, sober, a man with a plan: “Charlie didn’t burn through the present, or drown it out, or wash up against it, because his past had left him intact. He had a future to look forward to.” After the difficult birth of their first child and a near-fatal bout of malaria for Fuller a year into their marriage, Alexandra and Charlie leave Africa for the American West. There they buy land, build a house—first in Idaho, then in Wyoming. Charlie starts a whitewater river guide business and Fuller begins to write. But as we learn later, the marriage began to disintegrate early. As in that first year, early. Yet, two more children and nineteen more years of marriage follow. In their first decade together, Fuller writes nine novels that are rejected before she finds her way with Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight. Charlie Ross sets aside his adventure guiding to sell real estate, a move that fits his description of “someone who wasn’t a stranger to adventure, but yet who was not unpredictably, superfluously dangerous” yet disappoints Fuller all the same. She married whitewater river rapids, not a Century 21 gold jacket. This change of career isn’t what makes the marriage fail. There is a ranch, a house, animals, and three children to provide for. (Fuller’s writing career takes off, but if ever there was evidence that a successful book, even two, do not equal financial freedom, Fuller’s cautionary tale is it). There is financial stress and a natural lessening of passion as the demands of family take over, but Fuller reaches for a deeper reason. She identifies a profound incompatibility that harkens back to how being raised in Africa, in her very particular family, has shaped her psyche. In Africa, we filled up all available time busily doing not much, and then we wasted the rest.” But in America “there seemed to be so little of it, and its unaccustomed short supply panicked me in grocery checkout lines, during meals, and at traffic lights … Of course, I changed and sped up. Even in Wyoming—which reminds her of the natural, savage beauty she left behind—away from the city, at peace with animals and adored children, Fuller can’t escape the sense that she is losing herself. Just as she is poised to make the break, disaster strikes. Charlie is crushed beneath a horse and comes within a hair’s breadth of death. Alexandra Fuller stays with her husband through his recovery, but in the end, they end. Fuller reflects painfully on all the reasons why she and Charlie grew apart or never should have been together in the first place, but none struck me as insurmountable. Except—and this is at the heart of all Alexandra Fuller’s eloquent, spirited and raw writing—her sense of being misplaced. Her cultural displacement is a rift of the soul that she is ever in search of healing. I am Alexandra Fuller’s age. We married at the same time, to men who made our knees weak, who were both solid rocks of self-possession and stability. But how and why my marriage has withstood all the earthquakes large and small while another’s failed is impossible to say and unfair to speculate. As the author poignantly states, It’s not anyone’s job to make another person happy, but the truth is, people can either be very happy or very unhappy together. Happiness or unhappiness isn’t a measure of their love. You can have an intense connection to someone without being a good lifelong mate for him. Love is complicated and difficult that way.3 1/2 stars

  • Margitte
    2019-05-21 20:12

    From the book blurb:A child of the Rhodesian wars and daughter of two deeply complicated parents, Alexandra Fuller is no stranger to pain. But the disintegration of Fuller’s own marriage leaves her shattered. Looking to pick up the pieces of her life, she finally confronts the tough questions about her past, about the American man she married, and about the family she left behind in Africa. A breathtaking achievement, Leaving Before the Rains Come is a memoir of such grace and intelligence, filled with such wit and courage, that it could only have been written by Alexandra Fuller."Alexandra Fuller captured the imagination with her books,Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight , and Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness in which she wrote non-fictional memories of her parents and childhood in Africa. Rhodesia (now Zimababwe) and Zambia (previously known as northern Rhodesia), as well as Malawi, played a primary role in her family's lives. In this latest publication, Leaving before the rain comes she revisits her childhood, as a sequel, in an effort to understand her current life as a single, divorced parent in America. She tries to understand why her marriage did not last. Why her dreams did not pan out as she was hoping for. To create stability for her children, she first needed to take care of herself and not expect others to do so. First it was God, then her father, then Charles. In the end, she needed to discover her own strengths and weaknesses to stand on her own feet. And this is the central theme of this latest memoir.As with her previous two books, the author remains true to her own exotic (to Americans) witty, quirky, self. She takes the reader to her Africa, but this time focuses on her own experiences and not those of her eccentric parents as was the main focus in the previous chronicles. In her previous book "Cocktail Hour Under The Tree of Forgetfulness", she introduces her dad like this: "".... although my father is profoundly English, by the time I am old enough to know anything about him, he is already fighting in an African war and his Englishness has been subdued by more than a decade on this uncompromising continent. In this way, the English part of our identity registers as a void, something lacking that manifests in inherited, stereotypical characteristics: an allergy to sentimentality, a casual ease with profanity, a horror of bad manners, a deep mistrust of humorlessness. It is my need to add layers and context to the outline of this sketchy Englishness..." The previous books had so many readers falling in love with her parents, your truly included, and her mother was certainly one of the most outstanding characters to meet through her eloquent ode to their farm and life in southern Africa. But it was never fun. Their sense of humor often hid the terrible experiences she related of the terror and trauma of the African liberation struggle. One of the most outstanding thoughts from her previous book, which inspired me to read her latest memoir, was this:"But you can't have all this life on one end without a corresponding amount of decay on the other: in the morning my parent's maid, Hilda Tembo ( "Big H" to the family), will sweep up half a bucket of insects carcasses and two gecko bodies from under the Tree of Forgetfulness. Months from now three of the Jack Russels will have been killed by a cobra in Dad's office, and one will have been eaten by a crocodile in Mum's fish ponds. And Dad will walk out of the bedroom one morning to see a python coiled in cartoonish perfection around Wallace ( the late cat). "You learn not to mourn every little thing out there," Mom says. She shakes her head. "No, you can't, or you'd never, ever stop grieving.What my mother won't say - lost in all her talk of chemicals and pills - is that she knows not only the route grief takes through the blood but also the route it takes through the heart's cracks. What she won't tell me is that recovering from the madness of grief wasn't just a matter of prescriptions, but of willpower. " I sometimes used to envy the people you see running up and down the Kafue Road in hessian sacks," she said once. And it is true that Mum seriously considered that level of deep, irretrievable insanity an option. But instead, she took a different route and regained herself and that had very little to do with forgiveness: she forgave the world and her mind returned. She gave herself amnesty and her soul had a home again. The forgiveness took years and it took this farm and it took the Tree of Forgetfulness. It took all of that, but above all it took the one grief could never steal from my mother: her courage.""Alexandra Fuller has a talent to write. She has a talent to tell her story. Although it is important to her to use name-dropping in a sense, to justify the tale, or pressing her 'important' bloodlines onto the reader, the story in itself, of their hardships and horrors in Africa, as British settlers, could have stood on its own feet, simply because their tale is relevant to thousands of other people who had to flee Africa under similar circumstances. What makes her story different, is the way she is telling it. Unique, kind, honest and witty. No one had written much about us or made movies about our adventures, in part because there was no beginning or end to our undertakings, no way of knowing the arc of our narratives. We were less the authors of deliberate derring-do than victims of cosmic accidents,political mishaps, mistaken identities...By jumping here and there in the book,the narrative becomes much more than the usual chronological memoir. It becomes a gripping tale of people facing challenges while loving and losing dreams, family members, and often hope. Settling down in a new country, with a totally different culture than the one she grew up with, becomes a challenge for her in more ways than one. She has a hard time defining herself, or her roots. I was accidentally British, incidentally European— a coincidence of so many couplings. But I was deliberately southern African. Yet, she did not relate to Thabo Mbeki's expression : "I am an African." She explains why in the book.At the age of twenty two she marries Charles Ross from Wyoming. "What I never would have confessed was the truth: at twenty-two, I was already exhausted, onto Charlie’s broad- shouldered frame was an embellished biography that made him both my sanctuary and saviour." He was the epitome of everything she always hoped for herself and never received. She just did not know the rules of the game, and it would take her twenty years of marriage to figure it out. Her Africa did not exist anymore, but her childhood experiences of war, strive, unrest, survival and perseverance prepared her for this journey she had to take on.The book does not relate the actual reasons for the broken home her children have to face. It often created confusion. Since it is a memoir, and her intention is clearly not to embarrass or hurt anyone, some of the details that could have turned the book into a deeper experience for readers did not surface. Emotions are not fully explored, yet it can be detected in the unspoken words. Nevertheless, the prose is Fuller-perfect, the humor is still there, the honesty brutal and delightful. I remain a staunch admirer of this author's writing. She truly has a special way of doing so. I do recommend though, that her other two books, mentioned above, are read in conjunction with this one. Not many authors can combine tragedy with laughter in quite this way. I want to thank Netgalley and Penguin Books for the opportunity to review this book. I was a joyous reunion with the Fuller family.

  • Jill
    2019-06-19 00:29

    When Alexandra Fuller was a little girl, her father told her, “The problem with most people is that they want to be alive for as long as possible without having any idea whatsoever how to live.”Well, based on this memoir – luminously written and so compelling I didn’t want to come up for breath – this author has truly lived. There has been pain, yes, but also incandescent moments and adventures that the vast majority of people never get to experience. And Alexandra Fuller captures it all so well that I’m left wondering how it is that I’ve never read anything by her before.“Africa has been my primarily relationship for most of my life, defining, sustaining, and unequivocal in a way that no human relationship had ever been…,” Ms. Fuller writes. When she leaves it, she feels that an essential connection with this earth has become forever detached “ like a soulless body or a heartless lover.”In loving yet incredibly perceptive prose, Ms. Fuller showcases growing up in a chaotic and often fatalistic home. (She says of her parents: “Together they had lost three children, a war, a few farms, and for a while my mother had seriously lost her mind.”) She is mesmerized by Charlie Ross, an American who has launched a rafting and canoe company in Zambia, and who promises to be every bit as adventurous and risk-taking as she is.Yet the two of them – both of come from highly unorthodox and complicated families – have a mismatched view of the world. His is shaped by American pragmatism and hers is honed by the unpredictability of life. The author writes, “We had glommed onto one another in happy unconscious relief, as if the inherited and accumulated wounds in each of us had recognized their matches, their balms, and their ends.” Yet neither of them is capable of reaching beyond themselves to truly reach the other.This is a brutally honest memoir and a courageous one; Alexandra Fuller does not cast blame as her marriage dissipates and owns her own contribution to the marriage’s dissolution. It’s a book interspersed with poignancy and wit, with perception and intelligence, and the courage of self-examination. I’d count it among the finest memoirs I’ve read.

  • Desiree
    2019-06-01 22:14

    I hate giving this book such a low rating because the writing is really good. I really liked her first autobiography but this one just fell flat. By the end of the book, I just did not care what happened to her. She just comes across as very shallow and uncaring. Maybe it was because of her upbringing but, like I said, I didn't care anymore.

  • Jim
    2019-06-15 22:28

    Alexandra Fuller has made a writing career based on her family history, with this being the third instalment. As interesting as Fuller's family really is, she is obviously running out of material and is ranging farther afield for filler, including anecdotal information from both her extended family and that of her husband. I found that the material was a little too thin in the last half of the book and it was only with difficulty that I was able to maintain any interest. I was left with the impression that she was writing this for a paycheck and sticking to the only topic she was comfortable with.Additionally, and probably irrelevantly, she came across as cold and shallow in her treatment of her husband, leaving him when he was in financial hardship and shortly after he barely survived a serious accident. Most of her issues should have been covered by the marriage vows (in sickness and in health, rich times and poor, etc.)but perhaps there were issues she chose not to share.In spite of the shortage of new subject matter in this memoir, it is impossible to hide the fact that Fuller is a great writer. I know that I have at least one of her other titles at home and I intend to enjoy reading it.

  • Lormac
    2019-06-16 00:32

    I have been a huge fan of Alexandra Fuller. Whenever someone tells me they are going on vacation and want to pick up a good book, my go-to recommendations are always "Don't Let's Go To the Dogs Tonight" and "All Over But the Shoutin'". So when I tell you I was disappointed in "Leaving Before the Rains Come", I want you to know it pains me deeply.Billed as the story of Fuller's failed marriage, she begins the book by describing her post-college, pre-marriage years in Africa, where she seems at loose ends. Needless to say, this is not a good situation in which to choose a husband. Escaping boredom is not a good reason for marriage, and sure enough, her marriage is on the rocks fairly quickly. My first problem is one of my pet peeves - the description of how bored she is all day long at home with nothing to do. Please do not tell me that you cannot find something to do - read a book, learn to bake bread, take up painting - god, if I could stay home all day, you would never hear me complain. I know, I know... I said it was MY pet peeve.My next problem is that the trouble in her marriage is kind of mysterious. To spare her husband's feelings, Fuller may have been purposefully evasive, but this is not very helpful in a memoir. If an author is not honest in his/her memoir, then isn't that book just a novel? Here are the various reasons for the trouble in her marriage - her husband is emotionally withholding (but wasn't this obvious during her courtship?); she is too loud and noisy (but wasn't this obvious to her husband during their courtship?); they have tremendous financial difficulties (OK, she is really vague on this one - did her husband make risky investments? - did he steal and squander her writing fees and royalties? - was he too proud to take a menial job? - were they spendthrifts? - All of these are hinted at, but there is no real explanation, and if you cannot figure out where you went wrong with the figures in black and white on a page, then you are obfuscating.) - maybe she has bipolar disorder (again, this is hinted at, and since, lately, bipolar disorder seems to be popping up all over, and is the explanation for much of all bad behavior, I am just not buying it) - she has an affair (sigh). I am not a believer in staying together for the sake of the children, but if you really don't know what is going wrong in your marriage, then maybe you should stay together for the sake of the children. I have had friends who got divorced because their husbands were abusive, or could not hold a job, or were financially irresponsible, or slept around, or were lousy, unreliable, cruel fathers, or drank to excess, or saw nothing wrong with doing cocaine on the coffee table while caring for their toddler - any of which are substantial reasons to call it quits despite the kids, but Fuller's description of her marriage did not seem to lay any such reason out for her marriage's failure, so, to me, as a reader, I finished the book feeling completely confused.Where all of Fuller's other books have a crystalline ring of truth in them, this one just rang hollow and false, but I will still be recommending her other books to anyone who asks.

  • Angie
    2019-06-20 02:34

    I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.Unlike most readers of this book, I suspect, I have not read Fuller's previous books, so this was my first exposure to her voice. I loved it. She is open, honest, not overly critical but also questioning. She is near a divorce and looking back on her adult life and examining how she got there. What was she looking for in marriage? As an adult, what did she expect from herself? How is her family and upbringing tangled up in all that? I don't agree with all the choices that she made, but I don't think I need to in order to love the book. I love the writing and the characters she paints around herself. These are, of course, real people, but in a good memoir they also need to be painted as characters. Her voice is clear and strong, and her examination of her own life is inspiring.The central question of the memoir deals with how to live with risk. Her childhood was fraught with risk, danger. She was looking to escape that when she got married, but none of really can escape it. The finanacial risk was made obvious to her when the recession of 2008 hit, but it was clear before that, as well. The discussion she has with herself in this memoir reminds me of a conversation I had with my mother years ago, when my employment was uncertain and I didn't know where I would be in a year. My mother looked confused at my complaint about the stress of uncertainty. "No one knows where they're going to be in a year,", she said. "They just think they do. You're simply better informed." So we all make choices about how ordered our lives will seem, what rules we choose to enforce. Fuller grew up without rules, and married a man who liked rules. But that seems to be a conflict she needs to resolve now in her adulthood.In the end, I liked the writing, I liked the ideas, and I liked the author. Great read.

  • Kasa Cotugno
    2019-06-13 20:17

    Evidently, Fuller covered the material of the disintegration of her marriage in an earlier book, one that did not cross my radar even though I've been reading her for over 10 years. I'm glad I read this one without having read that one, since from the description, it is a much thinner volume, more of a bloodletting than a true memoir. This one incorporates memories from childhood, young womanhood, and in particular, her very special family which she has written about in earlier books. Of this, I can't get enough. It is astounding that she had written a large number of novels that were rejected, but that when she found her voice in using her own life as material, she took off. This is a stunning book, with equal parts humor and sadness. Here's hoping she's happy in her current situation which seems to be living in a yurt with a view of the Tetons. But here's hoping she keeps writing.

  • Beth Bonini
    2019-06-05 19:24

    Alexandra Fuller is a terrific writer . . . open this book on any page and you will read a knock-out sentence. Her writing combines vivid imagery with clear-eyed (sometimes painfully so) analysis, and no doubt she is her own best subject. (In this memoir, she reveals that she couldn't get her fiction published until she begin writing about her own life. It turned out that non-fiction was her metier.) Fuller grew up in the chaotic atmosphere of Rhodesia undergoing a war of independence. Her parents were British colonials who felt most at home in Africa - despite its poverty, violence and tenuousness. Fuller tells the story of her childhood in Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight - an utterly memorable book. In this memoir, she draws again on that childhood but through a different prism. When she meets her American husband-to-be, she thinks he embodies the best of her childhood (grit, courage, skill in the wild) - but without the drunkenness and darkness. In her own words: "It was what I had wanted, a ticket out of disorder and into calm, but now that I was here I felt imprisoned, suffocated." Fuller and her husband move to Wyoming early in the their marriage, and they both turn to mundane jobs to pay the bills. In some ways, this book is about the American Dream gone sour. As her father says, when he sees their huge American home with all of its accoutrements: "Who pays for all this lot?" As it turns out, both of them pay - with incessant work, stress and anxiety.Fuller seems like such a tough and intelligent woman that it is startling to realise that she has some deep vulnerabilities. In the broadest sense, this memoir is the process of her figuring out who she is and what she wants as a person. She married young, without a sense of what other choices there might be for her. Her "opposites attract" relationship with her husband gradually revealed itself as a deep incompatibility. Although it has many strong points, this book reads like a pretty brutal therapy session. It is about the slow dissolution of her marriage - which, from the way she tells it, was on the rocks during the first precarious year - and after reading it I felt emotionally wrung-out. It may or may not be helpful for those undergoing similar ordeals, but it probably will not be enjoyed by anyone looking for a light-hearted, feel-good read.

  • Tina
    2019-06-18 03:23

    First of all, I'm pretty picky when it comes to memoirs. I would say I mainly only like them when they tie in to a larger historic event or when they're humorous. "Leaving Before the Rains Come" is more of a musing, wandering reminiscence of emotions tied to strings of loosely connected memories. The book's main focus is the dissolution of Fuller's almost twenty year marriage, but it also delves deeply into Fuller's life growing up on the African continent, her parents and their relationship, and her comparison of living in the U.S. vs. southern Africa. These are all apparently often recurring themes in Fuller's works. I enjoyed Fuller's telling of the various unique struggles and perspectives of those living in the chaos of Africa, as well as the inserted words of wisdom from her father. The book lost me, however, in the author's telling of her divorce, especially through the second half, which felt dragged out. For one, Fuller seems to take a sort of snooty position towards America and our luxurious quality of life, almost as if we are not as authentically living because of it. Also, I felt myself siding with her husband, as I probably relate to him more in mindset and background. We don't really get to here much of his voice, but I found Fuller to be a bit stubborn and unwilling. She mentions they only dated for six month before they got married, and it feels as if the day after their wedding everything sort of fell apart. I suspect (and sincerely hope) that isn't true since they stayed together for so many years. In the end, it just felt grim - though maybe that's not surprising for a book about divorce.

  • Nicholas
    2019-06-08 19:28

    Ugh. I've not read Fuller's earlier memoirs because I'm not especially interested in white colonists in southern Africa. This I bought because I am interested in memoirs about the intricacies of marriage. Unfortunately this one is also mostly about Fuller's family of white colonists in southern Africa. While Fuller recognizes that her family is kind of problematic, she is also just SO enamored of them and all their English aristocratic idiosyncrasies that it kind of drips off the page. So, for those who liked Fuller's first two memoirs, I'll bet this is for you. For those who thought it would be the story of the relationship she had/has with her now ex-husband, keep moving. I found it pretty insufferable and I have to say that I don't see all the excitement people have about her writing, which I thought was affected and precious.

  • Wendi
    2019-06-07 21:15

    In the late spring of 2010, I was going through a difficult time in my life. We all have the rough times, whether it be days or years but judging my own life thus far, this period was the second most difficult time I've experienced. I went to a talk and book signing with Alexandra Fuller. I was struck by her physical beauty and, much more so, her voice and her words. I asked her to sign my copy of Don't Let's Go To the Dogs Tonight and I told her that while things had been difficult in my life, I pulled strength and warmth from her words. She was gracious, humble, unbelievably kind, and signed my book with a personal and beautiful epigraph. Having just finished Fuller's new memoir, Leaving Before the Rains Come, I can now see that her life was also difficult at the time that I met her. About a year and a half later, the remnants of her marriage were obliterated when her husband suffered a horrific riding accident. They were living in Wyoming at the time and attempts to save his life ended with bringing him to the ICU at the University of Utah here in Salt Lake. I am nothing more than a complete stranger to Fuller, but when I read about her fear and grief as she waited through his surgeries, alone, I wish so deeply that I could have been there. Just to sit, to listen if needed, to be a presence. This wasn't just a sympathetic yearning but an empathic urge from a woman who has been there. Some of the elements in her situation were startlingly similar to the earlier, highly traumatic event in my life. A stroke, multiple ambulances, a lifeflight in a tiny, tiny plane over an ocean, and days of uncertainty sparked with moments of hope. I was also alone, utterly alone in a foreign country, and reading Fuller's experience was rather traumatic for me. I've seen criticisms out there regarding Fuller's memoirs, this one in particular due to the extremely unfortunate coincidence that her marriage was already nearing its end at the time of the accident (they, in fact, had ridden the horses out to discuss a truce over the emotional upheaval in their lives). It should also be noted that he wasn't crushed by his horse and she walked away. She advocated for his care in every way she thought he would want, and she nursed him for months afterwards despite that they'd already been talking about divorce. I'd like to go ahead and dredge up my tired admonition about those who criticize authors for making these narratives "all about" themselves with the reminder that it is a memoir. What else do you expect? The best memoirs, however, skillfully relate the author's experience to those of others, and their context in the larger community. This isn't all to say that Fuller doesn't carry her own blame and share of responsibility for the decline of her marriage. To be honest, I'm not sure I could have stayed so long with a man about whom she described this way:Early in the marriage, while they were still living in Zambia, in a complete hovel of a place with no running water and biting ants covering the floor, Fuller had their first baby. She begged her husband for some improvement to their conditions but to no avail. They were surrounded by constant deaths from malaria and yellow fever and Fuller was terrified of her newborn baby dying. Fuller caught malaria, not for the first time, but for the worst time in her life and, finally, was literally dying of the disease. As she cradled her baby and felt herself falling into unconsciousness, she said to her husband, "I'm not going to come out of this."His response?"Bummer."Read the rest of my review at wanderaven

  • Patty
    2019-06-14 20:11

    “The problem with most people,” Dad said one, not necessarily implying that I counted as most people, but not discounting the possibility either, “is that they want to be alive for as long as possible without having any idea whatsoever how to live.” p. 20Last spring, a good friend started talking about Alexandra Fuller. My friend was looking forward to reading this portion of Fuller’s memoirs. At that time, I had not read anything by Fuller. I had a copy of her first book, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonightsitting on my bookshelves that I had picked up somewhere. It had sat on my shelf for years, but the memoir had never attracted me enough to pick it up. That was definitely my loss. Now less than a year later, I have finished Fuller’s three memoirs and I am very sad. I am sad because I won’t be learning anything more from Fuller for awhile. This book was just published, so I don’t expect another book from her for awhile.Also I am sad since this book was about the dissolution of her marriage. I know that marriage is different for everyone; even a couple sees their marriage through their own histories. It must be very hard to write about something that you had hope, faith and love in. Fuller does an excellent job of clearly seeing what went wrong with her marriage, at least she makes it clear to me. That is one of the reasons that I have read all of her autobiographies – she has provided me with comprehensible information about her life. She has shown me how a continent can become a defining part of a person’s life. She has also written well on family, grief and love. I am very glad I have encountered Fuller and learned more about her life.If you are interested in people’s lives, if you like reading about different countries or how folks survive difficult situations, I highly recommend Fuller’s story. Her story is amazing. The books that led me to this one (in chronological order):Don't Let's Go to the Dogs TonightCocktail Hour Under the Tree of ForgetfulnessOther autobiographies that I enjoyed:Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude My First White Friend: Confessions on Race, Love and ForgivenessPoor Man's Feast: A Love Story of Comfort, Desire, and the Art of Simple Cooking

  • Camie
    2019-05-21 01:21

    First I must say you will surely be confused if you read this book without at least reading Alexandra's Fuller's first memoir, Don't Lets Go To The Dogs Tonight , which details her upbringing as one daughter of a very eccentric white family living in Africa, up until the time she marries a visiting American man Charlie Ross at age 22. This is the third book but as the second book was largely about her parents, it is easy to begin here as Fuller describes her adventurous courtship with Ross in Zambia and later how she falls ill with Malaria on her wedding day. This is the story of her adult life, as together she and Ross decide to leave the dangerous but comparatively leisurely paced days of Africa to go to the mountains of Wyoming where they plan to enjoy the wilderness , and better health, but soon fall victim to stark reality which requires them to become more pragmatic in order to provide for their growing family. So Alexandra writes and Charlie becomes a land developer and realtor( after dreaming of being a river guide). And gradually their unorthodox marriage begins to unravel , as books are rejected and the real estate market flounders . This is a beautifully written book about the misfortunate events causing people to lose grasp of their dreams along with losing each other. There are lots of highlighted phrases in my book . "You always think there will be more time and then suddenly there isn't. You know how it is , you have to leave before the rains come, or it's too late." " After spending a lifetime fearfully waiting for someone to come and save her- she discovered that in the end, we all simply have to save ourselves." 4 stars but recommend reading first book

  • Jolene
    2019-05-24 00:12

    Al recounts her Anglo-African upbringing in Rhodesia/Zambia. The bonds forged between her and her parents, Vanessa, her older sister, and her husband Charlie are all borne of the circumstances and environment. At 23, she is fascinated by Charlie's "immunity" to the dangers and fragility of life, but they find it hard to become united in the way that her parents have.All of the places-Zambia, Wyoming, London finishing school, Kenya-can easily come off as exotic and while we do come to appreciate the splendor of the land, notions of a "continental African" experience/identity and American easy-living are quickly dismissed. Also the influence of time on Rhodesia/Zambia is accounted for--as the civil war time dangers are replaced by a new "seriously consequential capitalism" and strong Chinese presence.When she explains that she and Vanessa, and many other female children, were vulnerable to molestation and advances--it seemed so commonplace and that was truly upsetting because with Boko Haram attackS, etc, it seems like not much has changed about young girls' position in the world.http://www.economist.com/blogs/econom...

  • Diane S ☔
    2019-06-05 23:30

    Review to follow.

  • Lydia
    2019-06-12 01:22

    Sorely disappointed by this book, which I have looked forward to so eagerly. It retreads old content from Alexandra Fuller's two other memoirs and combines with it a pretty classic tale of a dying marriage. We all are damaged in our particular ways and Fuller's upbringing under unreliable and sometimes tragic conditions resulted in a personality that may have been ill-suited to domestic life. But the marriage doesn't appear that remarkable, nor do the reasons for its dissolution (money arguments, gradual distancing, an affair) so a front-row seat to its unraveling seems unnecessary. The marital money arguments are straight out of I Love Lucy, and Fuller is so ignorant of family's finances that she cannot understand why, in a recession, they can't afford their custom-built house, custom-built cabin, 4 horses, frequent intercontinental travel, and what must be 24/7 babysitting for their 3 kids. Fuller's writing can be extraordinary and she does communicate painfully her alienation but at the end the book doesn't add up to much.

  • Gail Kearns
    2019-06-19 02:25

    I've always been a BIG fan of Bo Fuller's writing. But this one left me flummoxed. Who really cares about her divorce to Charlie? I wonder what he thinks about the book? Did he okay it? I kinda felt sorry for him throughout my reading of it. Okay, she's still a very good writer and the way she delivers a line of text is sometimes mind boggling, but please. I hope she moves on to more interesting subject matter. This felt too much like self-therapy writing. I did enjoy the bits about her past growing up in Africa I didn't know previously and the new insights into her parents past and relationship as well. I look forward seeing something fresh and new in the future.

  • Patricia
    2019-06-13 01:09

    I am processing to understand the variety of emotions this memoir evoked. There are segments of Alexandra's life story that completely resonated with me and/or the emotion her writing evoked was disturbing. Then segments of her story were disappointing, or maybe I felt embarrassed for them, and I questioned why she felt compelled to include "their dirty laundry." There is no question her family is dysfunctional and drunks which comprised the segments I didn't care for. Maybe the reader didn't need this detail. Better to keep this in your family closet.But what I so love about Alexandra's writing is her story of Africa, the people, fauna, danger, heat, geography, culture and how it melded her and what she stands for. The story of the birth of her daughter, Sarah, and then Alexandra contracting malaria, weaning Sarah from breastfeeding was tender, profound and seeped maternal love when struggling for her own survival. The displacement and loneliness Alexandra felt living in Wyoming with her husband, Charlie Ross, the problems in their marriage and her depiction of no longer feeling a part of Africa, nor a member of any place, made me understand her better; feeling unmoored, adrift, a person without a foundation. Maybe her whole childhood felt foundationless: drunk adults, social and military unrest, child molestation. All that Alexandra and Charlie loved in life and the things which drew them together, then slowly they drifted apart, going through the daily motions of life, love, marriage, family and remaining friends was truthful, honest, and raw. Fuller laid it out on display - the good and the ugliness. When Alexandra and Charlie are at their darkest despair in their marriage, Charlie is severly injured in a horse accident. The true depth of loving someone yet not being in love with them, yet giving up everything to help fight for them, is a profoundly deep human bond of emotion and love. With each memoir, we receive more segments of Alexandra, her African life and what shaped her. She makes us think because of her raw and honest prose. Thank you for sharing another portion of your story."Thirteen and a half years after Olivia drowned and thirteen years after the massacre of those missionaries, eleven years after the end of Zimbabwe's bush war and the death of another of my mother's infants; after a lifetime of seeing tragedies of the sort that seemed both accidental and continual- drought, the genocide of the Ndebele people in Matabeleland, the beginning of the AIDS epidemic- my mind knew that tragedy and violence weren't mine alone, but my body hadn't stopped knowing panic. I had run out of whatever chemical it is that resets to calm. But Charlie seemed to have none of my brokenness. Whole and undamaged to the naked eye. Charlie's default was calm.""No one wants to go truly mad. But the line from spectacular eccentric to irreparably mind-lost is invisible, and easily crossed by accident." "Did I consdier myself African? The truth is, I longed to say, "Yes," as I had years ago. Even, defensively, "Of course, yes." I longed to have an identity so solid, so obvious, and so unassailable that I, or anyone else, could dig all the way back into it for generations and generations and find nothing but more and further proof of the bedrock of my Africanness. I wanted to be like my fellow speaker. No one would have asked her if she considered herself African, because she looked and sounded exactly as anyone might imagine an African should. Although maybe, if challenged, she would have rejected the label of African, and instead insisted on her identity as Nigerian, or more specifically as Igbo, or less particularly as a citizen of the world, or more broadly as a feminist. Perhaps she would have said she was none of the above. But we would never know, because she wasn't the one whose identity was in question. I said, "Not anymore. Not especially.""So as long as the question continued to be asked, I would likely continue to,rapid as I had to fight: "Not anymore. Not especially." And in any case, what life had taught me is that where we come from is a point-not a starting point, not the defining point-just a point. It's where we are that really counts.""Dad cleared his throat. "Yes, well, I suppose I always thought there would be time for one more farm. I thought I'd have time to go back to cattl.a small ranch somewhere near Choma, you know?" He shook his head. "And the one day I realized this is it. We're not going anywhere. This is the last farm. You always know how it is. You have to leave before the rains come, or it's too late."

  • Edward
    2019-05-31 02:24

    Fuller writes that she had nine novel submissions rejected, so obviously she has found her writing niche elsewhere - in the writing of memoir-based material, this her fifth book in this genre. It shares with her earlier books lyrical descriptions of her difficult childhood growing up in equatorial east Africa She was the daughter of British farmers who settled in the area, stubbornly refusing to move, even in the face of the tumultuous and dangerous period of transition from colonialism to independence. Much of her own resolute stubborness, she attributes to her parents, especially to her no-nonsense father.Fuller writes about herself, not as a fictional character to be sure, but as a type of individual who is struggling to find an authentic kind of existence. As she puts it, "There are at least two ways of living, at least two levels of awareness. One is the obvious way, the groceries and bank accounts that allow life, as we know it, to churn along in its solid-seeming myth of continuity. The other is the hidden way; the soul-searching and epiphanies and insights that allow soul, or what we suppose of it, to manifest and direct us. . . how many of us ever surrender, even briefly, to the sacred terror and beauty of the other way?" What gives the book its appeal, though, is not this philosophizing, but the details of her life which move back and forth from the violence and danger of living in Africa to living in America.. Africa meant constant struggle with a harsh nature of tropical rains, suffocating heat, and long dry spells, as well as constant awareness of the menace from other people. During the civil war, it was armed soldiers, and even after the wars, violence was rampant, along with diseases. In Africa, no one was immune to sudden and capricious tragedy, whether from nature or from humans. The sense of tragedy, of imminent disaster, pervades the book. She remembers her Scottish grandmother and how she is haunted by her memory. In fact, the dead are all around her, and Fuller talks again, as she did in DON'T LET'S GO TO THE DOGS TONIGHT, about Olivia, her little sister who died in a tragic drowning accident in Africa. Much later, she talks about her husband, Charlie, whom she was sure was going to die from having an horse fall on him. All of this, though, is part of life. The title is ironic, suggesting that there is an escape from the "rains" of disappointment and disaster. When she met Charlie , her future husband, in Africa , he seemed competent and capable, and "getting moored" to him was a way of leaving the turmoil of her African existence. She married him and they moved to Wyoming where he became an real estate broker. She became a mother of three, and thought at one point their existence could go on like this forever. But they began to drift apart, with silences between them becoming more and more prevalent. Fuller is a little vague about their marital problems, I'd suspect, out of consideration for the children. She doesn't attach blame to either side, saying that basically they were incompatible. Charlie was concerned with security and order, she with a freer kind of artistic life. So the "rains" continue to fall, and her life continues to contain doubt, fear, but also moments of happiness and satisfaction. The book concludes with her description of sailing on a small boat, "sometimes the wind got gusty and unpredictable, and then whatever line I pulled, things didn't make sense and the boat seemed to get a mind of her own. But that was a feeling of emancipation too, the way I had sometimes felt on a horse, as noting malevolent could touch me. And if for once I wasn't my gender, or my powerlessness. As if for those hours I was enough."

  • Sherry Schwabacher
    2019-06-18 00:23

    After her earlier memoir of her dysfunctional African childhood, Fuller paints a striking portrait of her marriage to an adventurous American. "I seldom told Charlie about the phone calls and I rarely shared with him the freshest dramas from Zambia in part because I had learned over time that the events we Fullers found hilarious or entertaining did not always amuse my American husband. Charlie was a gallant one-man intervention wanting to save us from our recklessness, quietly stepping in whenever he thought we were drinking excessively, ruining our health with cigarettes, or courting intestinal disaster with undercooked chicken. This made the Fullers howl with laughter and did nothing to make them behave differently. One year, in a fit of common sense, I sent a case of Off! insect repellent to the farm in the hope it would reduce the incidence of familial malaria. "Bobo sent us gallons of Bugger Off for Christmas," Dad told anyone who showed up under the Tree of Forgetfulness that year. "Go ahead, squirt yourself with as much as you like. Shower in it. Have a bath." I still felt a little torn. For a long time, I had tried to be profoundly grateful to Charlie for his impulse of wanting to rescue us from our chaos, and I had even tried to believe in his systems of control and protection the way I had once tried to believe in God. But deep down I always knew there is no way to order chaos. It's the fundamental theory at the beginning and end of everything; it's the ultimate law of nature. There's no way to win against unpredictability, to suit up completely against accidents. Which isn't to say I didn't embrace the Western idea that it was possible--"Good God, you look as if you're about to shoot yourselves out of a cannon," Dad said when he saw Charlie and me dressed for a bicycle ride in Lycra, elbow pads, and crash helmets-- but I understood that as much as it is craziness to court danger, disaster, and mishap, it is also craziness to believe that everything can be charted, ordered, and prevented."

  • Larry Bassett
    2019-05-28 19:31

    This is my third Alexandra Fuller book and my least favorite of the three. It is another book from audible.com and has the positive aspect of being read by the author something I always enjoy. I was initially attracted to Ms. Fuller's books because they took place in Southern Africa. The African location in this book is mostly Zambia. Her descriptions of life on this continent are often captivating as she writes about her love of the country. The books are mostly nonfiction and the cast of characters are mostly family. The author's parents seem mostly gruff and uncouth. They drink and smoke and live a hard life on the land with a few comforts. In this book the author falls in love, marries, moves to the US where she lives with her husband in Wyoming and Idaho. They have several children come apart and divorce. During that time the author finally has success as a writer after she tries unsuccessfully to write fiction and turns to writing about growing up and living in Africa.This book has a little too much struggle and what is life all about in it for me. I don't think her writing lends itself to that kind of introspection. At least I didn't enjoy it that much. What I did like was her exploration of what the land and Africa meant to her. But at the end of this book when she went back to Africa one more time she became aware that she had somehow lost her connection with that place. Of course she had somehow come to be in better touch with her self not really a surprise of course but somehow I just didn't feel like I had been along with her on that journey of self discovery. Maybe my mind had just drifted off on those pages as I enjoyed her South African accent.

  • S.J. Maxwell
    2019-06-02 20:34

    The writing is interesting, the story not so much.Fuller has impressive powers of description, and this is essential when trying to get the reader to understand what it's like to grow up in an untamed part of Africa and with a family of eccentrics whose only rule for children is "Don't be boring."The story that takes up most of the book, which centers on her marriage to American Charlie Ross, her move to Wyoming with him, her life there, and the couple's eventual split, is not quite as impressive. In fact, it's very conventional. A couple gets caught up in the rat race of providing for themselves and their kids a lifestyle they can't really afford. As happened for many other such couples, the music stopped in 2008 when the financial crisis made it impossible for them to keep living beyond their means. The tensions caused by their financial problems destroyed their marriage. End of story.I suppose the one unusual aspect of the story is the fact that Fuller came from a culture to which the relentless consumerism of Americans is quite foreign, something to which she was not at all accustomed and which she never really understood. She seems bewildered about why it was necessary for them to make so much money, to buy so many things, and to be so unhappy when it turned out they couldn't keep doing so. The book might have been a bit better had this aspect of the story been emphasized more than it was.

  • Jamie
    2019-05-22 01:16

    (3.5) Fuller is such a talented writer and memoirist and I've really enjoyed my exposure to her flawed, eccentric, and loving family members in her first two books, and I liked all the flashbacks to their quips and quirks in this story, but they sometimes were not closely or fluidly linked enough to make them worthwhile in this context. She is wise, having fully earned it, but also still very susceptible to life's difficulties, including an unhappy marriage that lasts far too long. I read this as a cautionary tale and gleaned a handful of very helpful bits of advice/insight:1. "But I understood: it's rarely the thing you prepare for that undoes you."2. "'Everything ends if you let it,' Dad said. 'Good and bad.'"3. "'Until you make the unconscious conscious,' Carl Jung said, 'it will direct your life and you will call it fate.'"4. "It's not anyone's job to make another person happy, but the truth is, people can either be very happy or very unhappy together...You can have an intense connection to someone without being a good lifelong mate for him. Love is complicated and difficult that way."

  • ATJG
    2019-06-17 20:20

    In February 2015 my wife and I and some friends went to see Alexandra Fuller speak at the Boulder Book Store. She arrived at the same time we did so we climbed the stairs to the second floor next to her and I can honestly say this is one of two times in my life when I've felt star-struck (the other time was helping Bill Vollmann move a table across a bar room in Portland). She probably saw me gawking like an idiot but I think I kept myself mostly in check.The second shock of the evening came while I was scanning the turnout at her reading. I had a readership demographic in mind after having read her books but the reality was completely different. She clearly deserves a wider readership than she currently enjoys. So permit me this plug: Alexandra Fuller is an astonishingly perceptive writer and each of her books offers the world refracted in such a way that it's impossible to ignore her conclusions. She is one of the writers I can point to as having shaped my thoughts and feelings. She's everything a writer should be. Read her.

  • Tuck
    2019-06-05 03:14

    perhaps fuller's best history yet, of her marriage with children, moving permanently from zambia to wyoming, thinking more deeply about her family and upbringing, comparing life in usa to farm life in southern africa, what it means to be african, to be usa'er, making her own family, watching/participating in the dissolution of her marriage, writing 8 novels while working part time jobs, raising her 3 children, seeing her home underwater in debt and losing it, getting 8 novels rejected, finally writing her story, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood and it getting accepted in a few days, the sad sad long ending of her marriage, the horrific struggle her husband goes through, the philosophy of her dad: to live a life, you have to live, everyday, with fierceness and love, somehow.

  • Cathrine ☯️
    2019-06-18 19:37

    Alexandra Fuller has had a fascinating life. Writing memoirs, her third, is no doubt similar to when you try and communicate with others about your own 'It's complicated' life story events and the strong possibility there will be something lost in translation. You might need to say, "You would have had to have been there." You know going into it all that it's like looking at an iceberg, so much more under the surface. Which is why I consider it a privilege when a stranger is compelled to write so honestly about themselves, letting us into a portion of her personal space, knowing there will be judgmental or dismissive responses. Her descriptions of opposing lifestyles in Africa and America paint a visual picture of what was so unreconcilable in her marriage. A welcome break from fiction reading for me and others who want another slice of one woman's very interesting life journey.

  • Mainlinebooker
    2019-06-11 21:33

    Firstly, I come to this with a bias. I LOVE Alexandra Fuller's writing. I have scooped up everything she has written and read this ARC while in Africa. She never fails to capture the essence of her homeland and the quirky parents that have shaped her life. This book is billed as a memoir but I found it to be more a stream of consciousness musing about her life culminating in the divorce from her husband. Some chapters felt like they could be individual vignettes that were sold for publication. That said, I adore her writing, highlighting words like they were food for supper. Well worth reading, if only to experience the true genius embodied in her soul.

  • Helen
    2019-06-16 20:22

    Let me say from the outset, I love Fuller’s writing. For even though it is once again an examination of her upbringing and life, she conveys it so well, that if she wrote it on the back of a paper bag I would read it. I am never disappointed as she captures the essence of not only Africa but how that impacted upon the way she views the world and her approach to life.“What did I know about the fifty-five (give or take) countries of Africa? I carried within me one deep personal thread of one small part of it, and it had changed and colored everything”.Full review at:http://greatreadsandtealeaves.blogspo...

  • Margot
    2019-06-09 01:25

    My least favorite of her memoirs. I felt that Charlie had no voice. It was hard to fully understand the dissolution of the marriage without ever getting much of a feel for who Charlie is and what the real issues, besides money, were.