I’ve seen the 1986 Sydney Pollack film of Out of Africa a few times and have always meant to read the book – I’ve had a copy for years but have only just got round to reading it. So, I have to confess, I was just expecting to read a familiar tale, yet I was in for a pleasant surprise. The book does not actually have one flowing narrative story like the film; it is really a series of small vignettes about the scenes and characters that Baroness Blixen encountered whilst living on her coffee plantation in British East Africa (now Kenya) between 1913 and 1931.

Out of Africa by Karen Blixen

It is a most unique book – Baroness Blixen’s opinions and attitudes towards Africa, other ‘colonists’ she came across and the many native people she got to know are intriguing to read. The excitement of the era shines through, perhaps most noticeably in portrait of Denys Finch Hatton, the intrepid explorer, aviator and, it is subtly inferred, Blixen’s love. I would definitely recommend this book – it is a wonderful snapshot into an era now completely past.