Set in the summer of 1914 near Mount Kilimanjaro in German East Africa, now Burundi, Rwanda and parts of Tanzania, the ex-patriot neighbors live in relative peace, tolerating each other as they strive to make a living in the area. Then WWI breaks out.
This is the rather darkly humorous story of how the war affected ex-patriots from various countries in and around Kilimanjaro.
Walter Smith is an enterprising young man from the US who with his wife Matilda, the daughter of a minister, owns a small sisal plantation and a precious Decorticator.
Erich Von Bishop and his wife Leisl. Leisl has just returned from a visit to her family in the US and she hates Africa and was very ill. She works as a nurse.
Gabriel Cobb of Kent, England is sent to Africa but not until after he marries his long time friend Charis. He gets injured and is taken care of by Leisl. Leisl is big a breasted woman – this is important.
Charis is looking for something more in marriage than what Gabriel can give her. And she is not quite enough for him either. There are sexual issues. She lives on his parent’s estate and is drawn to Felix.
Felix Cobb, Gabriel’s brother, stays in England, studying history and feeling really lost. Big family and there’s Charis, lovely flat-chested Charis. But he also finally has to go to war.
This book is basically really boring up to about half way. It’s written well enough, but I think I don’t get the humor. I generally don’t like war books and this is no exception. I suppose quite a lot could be said about the characters and their motivations – what is most important to Walter, to Matilda, to Erich, to Felix, to Charis? – How does the war interfere with their plans? Etc. I’m not up to it.