2 cassettes / 3 hours
Read by Penelope Ann Miller
"The voice of [the] narrator . . . seduces the reader into the world of this intelligent first novel."
A mesmerizing work that evokes the worlds if Isak Dinesen, Beryl Markham, and Ernest Hemingway.A novel of love and nostalgia set in the vast spaces of contemporary East Africa.
Romantic, often resonantly ironic, moving and wise, Rules of the Wild transports us to a landscape of unsurpassed beauty even as it gives us a sharp-eyed portrait of a closely knit tribe of cultural outsiders: the expatriates living in Kenya today.Challenged by race, by class, and by a longing for home, here are safari boys and samaritans, reporters bent on their own fame, travelers who care deeply about elephants but not at all about the people of Africa.They all know each other.They meet at dinner parties, they sleep with each other, they argue about politics and the best way to negotiate their existence in a place where they don't really belong.
At the center is Esme, a beautiful young woman of dazzling ironies and introspections, who tells us her story in a voice both passionate and self-deprecating.Against a paradoxical backdrop of limitless physical freedom and escalating civil unrest, Esme struggles to make sense of her won place in Africa and of her feelings for the two men whom she loves - Adam, a second-generation Kenyan who is the first to show her the wonders of her adopted land, and Hunter, a British journalists sickened by its horrors.
Rules of the Wild explores unforgettably our infinite desire for a perfect elsewhere, for love and a place to call home.It is an astonishing literary debut.
Twenty-something Esme, a beautiful Italian-American woman,searches for a sense of place and a sense of self amidst the serenebeauty and searing horrors of Africa. Looking for the Kenya of KarenBlixen (a.k.a. Isak Dinesen, author of Out of Africa), Esmecan't escape the present: dinner parties and safaris are alltinged--damaged, as it were--with news of war-torn Somalia andRwanda. Like Blixen, Esme is devoted to one man, in love withanother. The resulting tale, which encompasses about 12 months in thelife of the narrator, is both personal and political.
The daughterof a poet, Esme chooses her words carefully and is observant of allaround her. Her knowledge of Italian and the rhythms of that languagegive the prose an added lyricism and an often-dreamlike quality thatis enhanced by Penelope Ann Miller's reading. (Running time: 3 hours,2 cassettes) --Anne Lockwood ... Read more
Customer Reviews (78)
Raw land, raw emotions. . .
While a bit too much like a soap-opera for my taste, the descriptions of emotions, landscape and culture of expat Nairobi made this book worth the read.
Enjoyable light read...
"Rules of the Wild" is a highly enjoyable read. It isn't poetic or profound, and the writing is both blah and overly dramatic at times. And yet it is a engrossing portrait of modern Kenya, specifically a group of spoiled European expats whose love lives play out amidst the dramatic landscape. I was reminded a bit of Anita Schreve, another author who rises above romance novel status by writing about evocative locations with a slightly more sophisticated style than your average bodice ripper.
The narrator of "Rules of the Wild" is Esme, a self-absorbed Italian living with one man while in love with another. Her relationships with these two men, Adam and Hunter, make up most of the novel. It is hard to relate to these people, who are so privileged and narcissistic. Everything stands or falls on their latest love affair. I didn't particularly sympathize with her, and I wasn't particularly compelled by either relationship she finds herself in.
Counterbalanced with this plot is a portrait of contemporary Kenya itself -- a decadent white society living separately from blacks but united by the fearsome terrain. Adam runs a safari business catering to rich tourists; when we get out onto the savannah the book comes alive with potential. Unfortunately, though, we merely get a hint of the grandness of the location due to Marciano's limited writing skills. Here is a sample, "The view was staggering. As the mist slowly lifted, we could see Kilimanjaro perfectly silhouetted against the sky and make out the snowy streaks on its top. Below us, soft and full like women's [...], the round hills rolled and gently sloped down into the vast plain, like a sea of green." Not exactly Shakespeare, this one.
So why did I like the book so much? It was highly entertaining, for one thing. Once I got started I wanted to see more of this world, even as I desired better writing that could evoke the landscape and culture and make me feel like I was there. Although this novel didn't achieve that fully, I was nonetheless absorbed through to the end.
If you want a really evocative portrait of Africa, I'd recommend "Shadow of the Sun" by Ryszard Kapuscinski.That non-fiction portrait brought the continent to life in ways I can barely describe. "Rules of the Wild" isn't in that caliber. It is, however, an enjoyable light summer read.
Enough of an Escape
A fun read as Francesca discovers those latent emotions that the Kenyan elitist and adventurous lifestyle is notorious for surfacing. As I like to say, it's a collective society and what belongs to one belongs to all and this unfortunately sometimes stretches a little overboard to include lovers!She falls in love with a charming safari lover almost immediately upon arrival - not uncommon. She says that feelings often seem more intense in Kenya, that love feels stronger and more real. Yes, for those who let it, Kenya can bring out your rawest emotions and desires with little to curb or hinder you. It's just the way it goes.It's a love hate relationship, bittersweet and mouth-watering.
Torn between two lovers, Francesca's story in the bush and in Karen unfolds.We see the beauty in Kenya.We see hints of the poverty and war in Africa.We see ironical deaths within an insecure nation. The reality of Africa is tangible in some parts of the story but in most chapters to be fair, as Francesca will admit to herself, it is hidden behind the dinner parties and incestuous circles well known to the expatriates and upper class who reside in and around the capital.
A little warning - the book does not offer much in the way of closure or inspiration.It leaves you hanging in a loose noose at the end. Regardless, for those from there, it takes you to a place you know and entertains you with the little details of a love and landscape that you can relate to.As Francesca gets lost in the details of her turbulent relationships and emotions she sometimes can't control feeling, you are amused for the little while that you are getting your dose of Kenya!
Someone said it right when they said it is about a love affair with Africa itself. Lust, irrational attention seeking and all the other stuff we are taught to be appalled at and never to do. Although I couldn't quite associate with her erratic and selfish behaviour as we watch her cheat, once I started the book I didn't put it down until I was done. Admittedly, I ate it up.
Lovely writing, main character a dud.
Lovely writing and lovely, true descriptions of Africa. I felt as if I had a good view of Nairobi and the bush. The main character is a major looser though and it wasn't very interesting or fun listening to her for nearly 300 pages. It's hard to believe a woman can be so passive and uninspired. But the story moved along and as I said the descriptions of Africa were great.
True to Life
As an expatriate American who was born and raised in Kenya and attended the British boarding schools in Kenya, I can honestly say that I saw the people I grew up in this book.I first read it in 1998, when it came out; I was in the States for the first time and homesick for Kenya.When I read this book, it was as though I was home again.Esme's descriptions of Kenya evoke memories of home; once you fall in love with Africa, nothing else will ever seem quite good enough.
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