In Leaving before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller, we are given a lesson of difference in background and thoughts, as well as how those very differences can pull people together or rip them apart. Alexandra comes from a background many simply would not understand. Born of very diverse parentage in Rhodesia’s war torn landscape, she knows both the beauty and hardship of the land. With a British father and a Rhodesian mother, she is raised with varying dynamics. While her parent’s backgrounds are in no way alike, it is their love of Africa that keeps their own love alive. In a land where death and weapons are an everyday reality, Alexandra’s own personality has developed through her perceptions and happenings in a country of both beauty and death.
Falling in love with an American, she leaves her home to make her life with her husband in his homeland. It is here that she loses her heart a second time with another land and its beauty. Yet for her, Africa is the essence of who she is: she is colorful and untamed, a product of the life she left behind. Her husband’s manner is very different from her own, calmer and more refined. While it is this very contrast that draws her and makes her feel safe, it is these differences that also ultimately destroy their fragile bond. The daily grind of life with its various pitfalls is unable to hold the tenuous bonding of such diverse backgrounds and feelings.
There is an essence of bravery to put your life and perceived failings on paper and in front of people who may judge you harshly. Yet Alexandra seems to find her own peace by sharing her pain. Not surprising in a way, she has struggled and survived in a deep and harsh environment, and liberty has a different meaning. To take the pain from inside and move it to the outside gives a different freedom, and you can feel the healing as you move through her words.
Her experiences and words give you a look into a country that many have only heard of. The descriptions help you to visualize the abundance and depravity, the pain and the joy that exists, with the looming sense of death, often just inches away. She helps us understand how your heart can stay in touch even in the most hazardous conditions, and yet she also describes another type of beauty in her adopted county. The comparisons are interesting, and while dangers lurk in both countries, there is far more fear and frenzy in that from her homeland.
If you enjoy reading of differing cultures and backgrounds and find interest in what creates the fissures between human beings you will enjoy this work. The rawness and beauty of Africa, a country most only come close to in the news, comes to life in the pages of Fuller’s words.[amazon asin=B00KWG65S8&template=iframe image]