Out of Africa
By Isak Dinesen
- Date finished: April 10, 2015
- Genre: Memoir
- Year: 1937
- Project: n/a
- Reading List: Spring 2015, Modern Library’s 100 Best Nonfiction Books, TIME’s 100 Best Nonfiction Books
- Grade: B+
- Thoughts upon reading:
As per my last post, I have been a bad blogger lately. I have also been a bad reader. It took me about a month to finish Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen, and for part of that time, I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to finish. The book is 400 pages long, but still.
I hate it when books take me this long to read because, knowing how long the book actually was, I was never quite able to get into the book. When I spend that much time on a book, it’s usually because I don’t have time to try and get into it, and that’s exactly what happened with Out of Africa. I wanted to like it … I just never found the time to do so.
Still, I would say that I did like the book, to some extent. Out of Africa is a memoir of the time Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke (who later wrote under the pen name, Isak Dinesen) spent living and running a farm in Kenya around the time of the first World War. After she separates from her husband, she stays in Kenya with only her Somali and Native servants to run the farm, a lifestyle that becomes her passion.
This books is beautifully written and, by jumping around a bit, Dinesen artfully captures the beauty and wonder of living in the African highlands. She talks about the people, the animals, the weather, the mountains. The prose is able to fold readers into Dinesen’s world, and one can almost get lost in it.
Still, there’s very little plot in Out of Africa (I wonder what kind of story they decided to tell in the movie), and given my recent shortage of time for pleasure reading, it was very difficult for me to fully enjoy this book. Most days, I only had time to take in short snippets every now and then, making it harder for me to appreciate Dinesen’s lush, descriptive writing style. If I had been able to consume this book in long gulps, rather than little sips, I feel like I would have gotten much more from it.
And yet, I can always tell a dynamite book by how they get me in the end, and this had me feeling some mighty powerful emotions near the end. Plus, one can’t deny that Dinesen/von Blixen-Finecke was one badass lady, and it was awesome to read her story.