From the author of the international bestseller The Zanzibar Chest comes the irresistible story of his adventures and misadventures setting up a farm in Kenya.
Five years ago, Aidan Hartley decided to take the plunge and follow a dream he had been nursing since childhood: with his wife Claire, and daughter, Eve, he packed up his bags and headed off to Laikipia in Northern Kenya where he would buy a vast tract of dry land with no fences, no phones — and no company, at first, beyond the errant witchdoctor who cursed the dust of his footsteps. As Aidan and his young family struggled to build a farm from scratch, they had run-ins with leopards, cobras and their new neighbours. They drank a great deal and he crashed the car in the mud miles from anywhere. Claire had a miscarriage and then nearly lost their son before he was born on a long, dusty race to the hospital on Mt. Kenya.
Aidan grew up on a farm in Tanzania and thought he had farming in his blood, but nothing prepared him for his enormous struggles. Starting literally with nothing, he learned more than he ever imagined he would from the Africans who helped him along the way: men like Fundi Kariuki, a mason, carpenter, plumber and electrician who can construct a perfect 12 metre chimney that won’t smoke a house.
Wild Life is structured in seasons, as life is lived on the farm. It is an extraordinary book, sometimes heartbreaking and sometimes hilariously funny with the playfulness of Alexander McCall Smith and the distinctive punch of Alexandra Fuller, and guaranteed to make you think twice about giving up everything for the rural life.
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Aidan Hartley is the author of The Zanzibar Chest, which was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson prize and the Duff Cooper prize. He writes a column for the Spectator called Wild Life, and he lives in Laikipia, northern Kenya.Review:
“Some of this year’s best writing . . . Hartley has produced a muscular, heartbreaking book.”
–Sunday Times Book of the Year
“Wonderful and everywhere remarkable . . . Hartley writes with love and an astonishing zest.”
“A masterpiece. This is a hugely ambitious book . . . and can be compared in quality to an equally riveting book by a white African, Rian Malan’s My Traitor’s Heart.”
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