I read very fast but this book almost forces me to slow down to digest things.
It's like a gourmet meal and I find myself taking my time and almost slathering over the wordiness and descriptions.
I found myself touched and amused by the 'windsock' that was set up for her only the end was sewn shut so it couldn't blow.
I think she has a very dry and understated sense of humour and I like that. She doesn't seem to intentionally set out to make you laugh but you do anyway.
One thing I found very sad though; the dying man, Bergner, seemed to place such importance on talking about his acquaintance Carl Hastings, to the extent that she told a small lie about him getting married, but when she actually met him years later, he had no recollection of Bergner at all. Very sad.
While visiting a dying man in a remote african outpost, she describes the conversation. "His voice was soft and controlled, and very tired. 'It's been four years since I left Nairobi, and there haven't been many letters.' He ran the tip of his tongue over his lips and attempted a smile. 'People forget,' he added. 'It's easy for a whole group of people to forget just one, but if you're very long in a place like this you remember everybody you ever met. You even worry about people you never liked; you get nostalgic about your enemies. It's all something to think about and it all helps.'"
When my best friend was dying of cancer and had been shut in for months and away from work, she longed to hear about people she had known, even those who she didn't like.
And it was especially sad that the man in question didn't even remember Bergner.
As to how she got that way...she seems to have been raised entirely by men, allowed the liberties only usually allowed to boys as a child, so really it'd be her base assumption that there was no other way in which she should be treated, plus the sense that the white people had that things were just Different In Africa. The Africans themselves would probably treat her as they saw the white men treating her, probably having a sense that White People Are Strange, So What Can You Do?
One thing that's interesting about Honorary Men is that they don't play well with other women ("I just get along with guys so much better than with other women!") and guard their place rather jealously, so I'll be interested to see if relationships with other women exist, are elided, what sorts of women she can deal with, etc.
[This message edited by ladyvorkosigan at 8:25 AM, September 1st (Wednesday)]
Here is an apt quote from Amelia Peabody, another honorary man, albeit a fictional one:
"If you take a man by surprise, and behave with sufficient arrogance, he will generally do what you ask."
[This message edited by ladyvorkosigan at 1:57 PM, September 1st (Wednesday)]
I really like this book. It's hard not to keep reading ahead.
Much of your pain is self-chosen. ~Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, 1923
"It's not livin' that you're doin' if it feels like dyin." Ray Lamontagne
I'm a little ahead, but don't want to hurry anyone because the book is so worth savoring.
We really picked a winner for our first book, and it just keeps getting better and better.
1. The war reference is to WWI and the fighting btwn. the Germans and British in E. Africa? Right? So when Arab Maina is killed, it is in Africa? Would natives have been forced to fight or did he, as she characterized it, feel a loyalty to the British?
2. The imagery she provides is so incredible. I loved how she wrote in first-person (so to speak) from the perspective of the horse, Camciscan. I mean she spoke this horse's mind so well. It was wonderful.
3. Then she attends the birth of Coquette's foal, taking charge and basically handling the actual birth. And, at the time, she is only 15.
Of course, all of this is in the context of a girl who runs barefoot thru Africa with a spear chasing warthogs.
And, not to mention, she survives being attacked by a lion. Though, the picture of his living out his days in a cage was so sad. They had tried to tame him and couldn't (b/c he's a lion) but they ruined him for his "wild" friends so he couldn't return. Then when he does what comes naturally to him, he ends up in a cage b/c he can't go back to the wild. Sad.
I also wonder about how all of this "civilization" being thrust upon the natives strikes her. It seems she thinks it's all a good thing. She seems to believe in her father's and the other British settlers' settling of the land--tearing down the trees, milling and such. She doesn't really seem to question the merit of all of this.
Also, I know we talked a lot about the other women missing in the book. But she does speak of Delamere's wife and she speaks favorably of her, saying she cared for her sort of as a mother since she didn't have her own. But, again, it seems like she doesn't view her as quite equal: she faced her tasks "with perhaps less will than patience, less aptitude than loyalty to her husband." She seems to paint a very "behind every successful man, there is a woman" perspective. But you don't get the sense she will ever be happy standing behind a man.
Another example of this is when the young African girl compares their bodies but notes that Beryl is going hunting and the girl never would.
Beryl really seems to see herself as apart from other women--not just the natives but also the British woman.
Btw, do we ever find out what happend to her mother? She comes to Africa with her father around age 4, right?
And I think the book described Arab Maina went willingly, thinking it was his duty, with his spear.
This was very sad to me. He got his rifle and looked for someone to fight, and was shot and killed.
His opponent was also looking for someone to fight and shoot.
I haven't read any background on her...I'm kind of enjoying the "gleaning" of info from what she writes. I think her mother is not deceased or she would have said that. Thinking her mom didn't want to go to Africa...or something.
Not just with Camciscan, but with other animals, too--Buller, Coquette, the warthogs, and the new foal--she really has an interpretation of what they are "feeling". I think it's funny how she ascribes to them very human thoughts/emotions. My brother trains dogs and when my kids say things like "that dog is sad", he always says "don't think of them as people, they're not." She is just sooo totally the opposite.
Arab Maina... That was just so sad and so USELESS.
When she was describing the events leading up to the birth of the foal, I really thought she was in her early twenties. She had her own hut, she had assistants...to find out she was only 15 was just a shock. Is there nothing she can't do?
Thought it was also interesting that she only had her first mirror at 15. And that she wasn't totally pleased with what was in it and wondered how that might be changed. This really surprised me--just didn't think she'd care that much. Really added kind of an interesting angle to her for me.
ETA...the part of Arab Maina was just so sad, too, because he really loved her and cared for her. The warthog adventure certainly proved that...I really like how she doesn't really tell things in a chronological order, but rather how things are linked in her head (at least it seems this way to me).
[This message edited by punky at 8:00 AM, September 7th (Tuesday)]