cover image Leaving Before the Rains Come

Leaving Before the Rains Come

Alexandra Fuller. Penguin Press, $26.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-59420-586-6

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... [but] 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. Agent: Melanie Jackson, Melanie Jackson Agency. [em](Jan.) [/em]