Mar 19, 2018

There's a Rhino in the Rosebed, Mother

by Betty and Jock Leslie-Melville

This is a hilarious, and sometimes sobering, collection of little stories and anecdotes by a couple who ran a private tourist operation in East Africa during the sixties. I've read their book about raising Rothschild giraffe, and apparently they were famous through their other writings because they spent half the year touring in America, giving talks about their life in Kenya and drumming up business, the other half of the year taking people on safari.  The book has kind of an odd beginning- it pitches almost immediately into anecdotal stories about traveling around the States, getting into odd, amusing mishaps. Other parts have just as amusing snippets about their dealings with safari guests, and what life was like in remote, rural Africa. And their complaints about how things changed as it became modernized. The book is solidly placed in its time. Diane Fossey was still alive. There's mention of the Adamsons filming stories of their lions, and of Zamba as well. African countries were just gaining their independence from colonialism; in fact several of the final chapters went into great depth about the horrors of apartheid and the "terrorists" in Rhodesia, which gave a different view on the local situation as described in Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight. There is not a lot about wildlife, something I missed as I rather expected it from what I remembered of another book they'd written. In spite of that I found this one quite entertaining with its sometimes insightful look at people just being people. The friendly, down-to-earth tone reminds me of Betty MacDonald. Of all the many quirky little incidents related, I think my favorite is the one about a man who encountered a chicken in the outhouse, and thought it was a snake. In spite of his misfortune, I laughed so hard.

Rating: 3/5           253 pages, 1973

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