The Africa House: The True Story of an English Gentleman and His African Dream

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9780060735883: The Africa House: The True Story of an English Gentleman and His African Dream

In the declining years of the British Empire, in Northern Rhodesia, Stewart Gore-Browne was a proper English gentleman who built himself a sprawling country estate, complete with liveried servants, rose gardens, and lavish dinners finished off with vintage port in the library. All that was missing was a woman to share it with. He adored the beautiful aviatrix Ethel Locke King, but she was almost twenty years his senior, married, and his aunt. Lorna, the only other woman Gore-Brown cared for, was married as well, but years later her orphaned daughter would become Gore-Browne's wife. The story of a colonialist who beat his servants yet supported Rhodesian independence and who was given a chief's burial by the local elders when he died, The Africa House rescues "from oblivion the life story of an astonishing man, an astonishing marriage, and an astonishing house" (The Spectator).

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About the Author:

Christina Lamb is one of the world’s leading foreign correspondents. Author of Farewell Kabul and New York Times bestseller I Am Malala, she has reported on Pakistan and Afghanistan since 1987. Educated at Oxford and Harvard, she is the author of five books and has won a number of awards, including Britain’s Foreign Correspondent of the Year five times, as well as the Prix Bayeux-Calvados, Europe’s most prestigious award for war correspondents. She currently works for the Sunday Times and lives in London and Portugal with her husband and son.

From Publishers Weekly:

Shiwa House is a magnificent, dilapidated rural estate in Zambia: built in the early years of the 20th century and resembling an English ancestral home, it was "completely... out of place in this remote corner of the African bush," writes Lamb, a journalist and author of the highly praised Sewing Circles of Herat. Her narrative, spanning more than half of the 20th century, not only reconstructs Shiwa House's original glory but details the intimate world of its builder, the egotistical Sir Stewart Gore-Browne, whom President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia honored with a state funeral in 1967. Concentrating on the evolution of Gore-Browne's nostalgically conceived estate in a remote outpost of British colonial Northern Rhodesia, Lamb evokes the beauty of the unspoiled countryside, its teeming wildlife, Gore-Browne's love of hunting, his friendly relations with locals and his eccentric attempt to model his estate on that of his cherished Aunt Ethel in England. Lamb recounts Gore-Browne's romantic affections for his beautiful, older married aunt and his equally perverse marriage to the much younger daughter of an old flame; his largely unsuccessful political campaigns; and his unexpectedly wholehearted support of Zambian independence. The narrative is engaging and well crafted, although Lamb's attempts at dramatizing her subjects' emotional lives sometimes read like a romance novel, and her narrow focus on the house's history obscures the wider context of waning British empire. 16 pages of b&w photos, maps.
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