Review: Out of Africa by Karen Blixen

I actually can't bring myself to finish reading Out of Africa because it is such a colossal, rubbish disappointment. I made a rule when I was about 13 (and decided to try and read every classic every written - I even printed off a list - adorable, I know) to always finish a book when I started it. Since finishing Oxford, where I studied English, I have suspended that rule indefinitely.


Studying English in such an intense academic environment was a totally amazing and unique experience but it is also took my love of reading and sacrificed it on a cliff. I think for some people studying intensifies their love of the subject or form but for me I lost faith in reading and writing. Perhaps this is because in the sea of Oxford fish I wasn't actually that clever or that amazing or that wonderful. You laugh, but I really thought I was the best ever at English. It's a bit embarrassing to admit but I actually got the lowest mark in my graduating class - admittedly my class had 7 people in it at Magdalen, but still, I wasn't very impressed.


One of the best things I did during the first lockdown back in March 2020 was to re-read the entire book series of Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging. When I was a tween (do we still say that?) I obsessively read about Georgia and the gang but never actually read all of the books because they hadn't actually been published. I lay in the garden, soaking the strange hot April sun, and devouring these giddy, delicious and hysterical books. Anyway, these books reignited my love of reading and eventually led to me reading Out of Africa.


I thought Out of Africa was supposed to be highly erotic and romantic. To be fair, my expectations were based on the 2 minute trailer of the film starring Meryl Strep and Robert Redford, but still, word of mouth had told me it was a saucepot of a novel and depicted a thrilling affair. Honestly I don't know how the producers got anything out of the novel. Redford's character isn't even introduced until the final quarter of the novel and dies pretty quickly. The most exciting thing Deny does in the book is take the Baroness for a ride in a small plane. There's a lot of boring anecdotes about the wildlife and local African community arguing about things. Obviously the discussion of the 'natives' feels wildly outdated and at times is a rather uncomfortable read. Moreover, I actually really like books about animals - Wesley the Owl is one of my all-time favourites - but even here Out of Africa failed me.


I don't like to be so negative about a novel because I like books but really don't bloody bother. The only thing this book was good for was sending me back to sleep.


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