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Reviewed by Nina Longfield

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller is a return to Fuller’s childhood upbringing in East Africa. Through Fuller’s writing, the reader gets a glimpse into a world vastly different from that of suburban America yet only a couple of decades removed from now. This is her quasi-sequel and prequel to her first book, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight. Within the pages of Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, Fuller further explores her African upbringing through a deeper look into the lives of her relatives. The reader follows the author in her travels to the remote Scottish isle of Skye where Fuller seeks out her maternal grandmother’s heritage. She follows her mother’s and aunt’s return Kenya as she ekes out their childhood memories. Through the exploration of the older generations, Fuller delves deeper into her own childhood and life.

Alexandra Fuller has a talent with the written memoir. Her storytelling effortlessly flows from the contemporary setting of her parent’s fish farm in Zambia to the remote cool wet weather of Skye or bleak post-war England. She gives life to her characters through each person’s own unique voice. Fuller shows the reader that her heritage is both stubborn and free-spirited. And she answers the question of why her parents never left Africa.

Fuller is a pleasant writer. There are no surprises, but she presents her stories in almost fantastical proportions. It is not fantasy that she creates, just a different upbringing than most have experienced. Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
is a passionate amalgamation of ancestral stories that offers a glimpse into one woman’s life.

Rating: 5/5

Nina Longfield is a writer living in Oregon’s fertile wine country. When she is not reading or writing in her spare time, Nina enjoys hiking in the hills surrounding her cabin.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Penguin Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.