Leaving Before the Rains Come begins with the dreadful first years of the American financial crisis when Fuller’s delicate balance—between American pragmatism and African fatalism, the linchpin of her unorthodox marriage—irrevocably fails. Recalling her unusual courtship in Zambia—elephant attacks on the first date, sick with malaria on the wedding day—Fuller struggles to understand her younger self as she overcomes her current misfortunes. Fuller soon realizes what is missing from her life is something that was always there: the brash and uncompromising ways of her father, the man who warned his daughter that "the problem with most people is that they want to be alive for as long as possible without having any idea whatsoever how to live." Fuller’s father—"Tim Fuller of No Fixed Abode" as he first introduced himself to his future wife—was a man who regretted nothing and wanted less, even after fighting harder and losing more than most men could bear.
Leaving Before the Rains Come showcases Fuller at the peak of her abilities, threading panoramic vistas with her deepest revelations as a fully grown woman and mother. Fuller reveals how, after spending a lifetime fearfully waiting for someone to show up and save her, she discovered that, in the end, we all simply have to save ourselves.
Kathryn- 5 Star
Alexandra Fuller writes in a way that reaches the bottom of my soul. Every word she puts to paper in her memoirs seems to make an impact and make me think, make me reassess and value the things around me.
I feel a vague attachment to her because of her childhood though mine was nothing like hers. Somehow her relationship with Southern Africa reaches me via my parents who did spend a lot of time on the continent. I’m connected with the life, the relationships, the trials and the sense of family ties. Though frustrating, infuriating and sometimes completely baffling her family is close, is real and made her the person she is. This is completely clear when Fuller explores her marriage when they move to Wyoming. The obvious disconnect between them becomes insurmountable and the bond they had is broken because his childhood truth and the expectation of his life is nothing like she has ever experienced.
It’s been a long time since I took out a pen and underlined passages in a book. Mostly I wouldn’t do this because I would likely loan it to someone else but this book will likely remain on my shelf, like Don’t Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight which has been packed up and moved with me more than once.
In the chapter The River Runner and the Rat Race, when Fuller is analysing why she and her husband aren’t connecting, there is a passage explaining that there are two ways to live: one is the obvious way of routine and plans and the other the hidden way of soul-searching and epiphanies, allowing the soul to direct us. Living one way without the other is perhaps to live dangerously but how many of us ever give ourselves over enough to fully understand, accept and see the beauty of the other way of life. The entire passage (pg.205) struck me as so powerful that I read it over and over again. It is realistic to expect that most marriages, at some point, reach moments of conflict but how much you are willing to surrender your way to your partner’s way, and even to see the beauty in it? If you do this even temporarily it may make you part of a stronger partnership? Who knows? But it certainly made me think.
I love Fuller’s writing- I would read her novels again and again.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for our review copy. All opinions are our own.
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