The New York Times Bestseller from the author of Travel Light, Move Fast
"One of the gutsiest memoirs I've ever read. And the writing--oh my god the writing."—Entertainment Weekly
A child of the Rhodesian wars and daughter of two deeply complicated parents, Alexandra Fuller is no stranger to pain. But the disintegration of Fuller’s own marriage leaves her shattered. Looking to pick up the pieces of her life, she finally confronts the tough questions about her past, about the American man she married, and about the family she left behind in Africa. A breathtaking achievement, Leaving Before the Rains Come is a memoir of such grace and intelligence, filled with such wit and courage, that it could only have been written by Alexandra Fuller.
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.
An unforgettable book, Leaving Before the Rains Come is a story of sorrow grounded in the tragic grandeur and rueful joy only to be found in Fuller’s Africa.
Thinking back to 1994, when the African-raised Fuller (Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness), her American husband, and their infant daughter left their cottage in Zimbabwe for a life in the mountains of Idaho and Wyoming, she writes, "Our marriage wasn't going to be about nearly dying, and violent beauty, and unpredictability... sensible decisions, college funds, mortgages, and car payments." In her newest memoir, Fuller insightfully explores the contrasts between the different landscapes and their corresponding mind-sets, as well as between the safe investment she intended with her marriage and the messy, isolating reality of where the relationship ended. As always, when Fuller describes the African farms of her childhood, her prose vibrates with life and death and dry British sensibility. Equally sharp are her observations about American life and its all-consuming pursuit of convenience and comfort. However, this book also attempts to tackle territory for more familiar to her Western audience a sad, drawn-out divorce complicated by three adored children and piles of debt. Understandably, the utter banality of the day-to-day proves more difficult for Fuller to enliven with her signature punch. Nonetheless, the rich narration of Fuller's upbringing, sensibility, and loneliness make clear that she remains one of the most gifted and important memoirists of our time.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Leaving before the rains come
As an ex Zim, ex Zambian, ex South African married shakily to an American, who's family crest (a rampant lion) gold signet ring was stolen, I'm a bit shaky after this race of a read!
Was so comforted by the familiarity of The cast of characters and in awe of Fullers ability to take me on her lovely poignant journey.
I couldn't put this book down. Amazing, insightful writer.
Great author, trying times.
I love this author and I feel her pain. She puts into words emotions and situations with the same care as a master painter. It's obvious, as anyone who has experienced the end of a marriage knows, that this was a trying piece. I can't wait for her next book and I wish her happiness.