Leaving Before the Rains Come (Hardcover)
— From Summer Reading List
February 2015 Indie Next List
“Fans of Fuller's African adventures will be thrilled to find she is back with another engaging memoir, and new readers will want to read her previous works. In Leaving Before the Rains Come, Fuller tells of her unraveling marriage and her realization that she is a person truly between countries, living in the U.S. with her husband and children while her heart and soul remain in Africa. Her experiences in the States change her, and when she returns to Africa she discovers that she no longer fits in as she previously had. Fuller must face some tough questions about who she is and where she belongs, and she does so with her usual intelligence and wit.”
— Liz Heywood, The Babbling Book, Haines, AK
New York Times Bestseller
"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.
About the Author
ALEXANDRA FULLER was born in England in 1969. In 1972, she moved with her family to a farm in southern Africa. She lived in Africa until her midtwenties. In 1994, she moved to Wyoming.
Praise for LEAVING BEFORE THE RAINS COME
Michiko Kakutani, New York Times:
“Ms. Fuller writes with ferocity and precision, and she turns the story of her marriage and its disintegration into a resonant parable about a couple’s mismatched views of the world.”
Entertainment Weekly (Grade: A):
I've loved Alexandra Fuller's other books, particularly Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, a rich, marvelous memoir brimming with details of her romantic Rhodesian upbringing, and Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, which traced her mother's history. But Leaving Before the Rains Come, the story of her crumbling marriage, is even better than those two books, one of the gutsiest memoirs I've ever read. And the writing—oh my God, the writing. It's more than a little daunting to review a book so gorgeously wrought that you stop, time and again, just to marvel at the language."
“After writing unforgettable memoirs about her charmingly eccentric African upbringing, Fuller chronicles the doomed marriage that turned her into a quasi-American. This gorgeously written march toward divorce is a doozy; She sought a tame, stable life and then fought it off like a caged (and crazed) lioness.”
New York Times Book Review:
“Fuller is far from depleted: This book perhaps marks the beginning of her journey toward an unassailable possession of mind, and toward a new kind of freedom.”
“The rawness and beauty of Africa, a country most only come close to in the news, comes to life in the pages of Fuller's words.”
“Fuller unravels her feelings in an exquisite meditation on what it means to be alone — on the courage it can inspire, as well as the sometimes undeniable sense of sorrow. Here the fear arises again, but this time she takes it in her hand and smartly wraps it in nothing — no pretty paper, no apologies.”
Dallas Morning News:
“Often wildly funny, Leaving Before the Rains Come tells the bittersweet story of Bobo and Charlie’s marriage…She is a vivid storyteller, trained in the art by her colorful mother and laconic father…. [Fuller] excels at re-creating her African background and bringing her family back to life in an endlessly entertaining way.”
“On the surface, it is the story of the end of a marriage. It is not, however, a divorce memoir, nor is there much of the misery about it. Instead, Ms Fuller has stitched together a patchwork of anecdotes and emotions spanning two continents—the Africa of her early years and the America of her adult life—and many generations of variously mad and sad ancestors in an attempt to make sense of it all. Her writing is astoundingly good; she loops forwards and backwards in time and place, but there is not a spare word in the book. Every story earns its right to be there.”
“This clear-eyed chronicle is perhaps one of the best memoirs ever written about divorce.”
“Honest insights to some of these questions shine brilliantly throughout Fuller’s characteristically poetic, often humorous writing about the pain of divorce… If there were a guide to self-care in the wake of divorce, this book is it.”
Booklist (starred review):
“Powerful, raw, and painful, Fuller’s writing is so immediate, so vivid that whether she’s describing the beauty of Zambia or the harrowing hours following a devastating accident, she leaves the reader breathless. Another not-to-be-missed entry from the gifted Fuller.”
“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.”
“Fuller’s talent as a storyteller makes this memoir sing.”
Praise for COCKTAIL HOUR UNDER THE TREE OF FORGETFULNESS
Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times:
“Electrifying…Writing in shimmering, musical prose… Ms. Fuller manages the difficult feat of writing about her mother and father with love and understanding, while at the same time conveying the terrible human costs of the colonialism they supported… Although Ms. Fuller would move to America with her husband in 1994, her own love for Africa reverberates throughout these pages, making the beauty and hazards of that land searingly real for the reader.”
The Washington Post:
“Ten years after publishing Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, Alexandra (Bobo) Fuller treats us in this wonderful book to the inside scoop on her glamorous, tragic, indomitable mother…Bobo skillfully weaves together the story of her romantic, doomed family against the background of her mother’s remembered childhood.”
“Another stunner… The writer’s finesse at handling the element of time is brilliant, as she interweaves near-present-day incidents with stories set in the past. Both are equally vivid… With Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness Alexandra Fuller, master memoirist, brings her readers new pleasure. Her mum should be pleased.”
Praise for DON’T LET’S GO TO THE DOGS TONIGHT
“This is not a book you read just once, but a tale of terrible beauty to get lost in over and over.”
The New Yorker:
“By turns mischievous and openhearted, earthy and soaring . . . hair-raising, horrific, and thrilling.”
“Vivid, insightful and sly…Bottom line: Out of Africa, brilliantly.”