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An enjoyable account of Annie Schrank's first experiences in Africa when she arrived in Ethiopia as an idealistic young woman with her dog, Daisy, and a few belongings. This memoir reads like a novel and includes much of the excitement, romance and adventure one might find in a fictional story. It even describes in quite some detail the author's first experiences of a real relationship and physical love. In fact, her romance with the Italian neighbour who sweeps her off her feet and into his family forms much of the content of the book. Ethiopia seemed to both shock and intrigue the author, and I felt her raw emotions about the poverty, the famine and the fear of the political situation very clearly. I particularly enjoyed her descriptions of the country and the people and would have liked even more of this. However, it was Kenya that really stole her heart and I have a feeling I will enjoy the second book in the series even more as she arrived there quite late in her African adventure and the indications are that she returned. Altogether, this was an easy to read and exciting story and I would recommend it to anyone who is as fascinated by Africa as I am.
On occasion, the memoir form has been dismissed as the pursuit of self-indulgence by a writer seeking immortality for a life insufficiently lived. But Annie Schrank’s “Longing for Africa” Part 1: Ethiopia” is not only an exception to this judgement, it is an outstanding exception. If you read only one memoir this year, make it “Longing for Africa”. You will be rewarded.
Annie Schrank is a remarkable person and a fine writer. She talks with ease, candour and professional flourish about breathtaking and noteworthy incidents -- events that are of significance not only to the 20-year old designer she was when she left New York to open a leather-good factory in Ethiopa, but matters that will resonate with readers for whom personal growth, courage, love, initiative, empathy and the social, economic and political evolution of the developing world are regarded with interest and significance. Oh, and, of course, sex!
Although her New York employer had partnered in the leather factory initiative with the governor of a province a days’ drive from the capital, nobody could have foreseen the difficulties that would be encountered or that the country, stable for a thousand years, would suddenly be rocked by a communist insurrection.
This absolutely fascinating story told in multiple and well-integrated strands, shows the author to be a well-educated, highly courageous, reflective and emotionally mature adult despite her tender age. She has a staunch character, a great deal to thank her loving parents for, professional skills and is a fine observer of both the human and physical landscape of the provincial Ethiopia that she is plummeted into with virtually no preparation.
This is a memoir that deals most competently with a host of both comfortable and distressing matters -- delight, famine, sex, love, innovation in business, delighted exploration, anthropological observation, home-made food, brutality and kindness. But I was left with an overwhelming respect for the integrity of the author.
If you read only one memoir this year, make it “Longing for Africa” by Annie Schrank. You will be well and truly rewarded
In the subtitle of this book author Annie Shrank credits Jane Goodall for inspiring her to visit Africa during the 1970's. Today Jane travels the globe spreading a message of peace, hope, and conservation. Despite her hectic schedule, she took the time to read Ms. Shrank's book and to write a glowing recommendation that appears on the book's cover. That speaks volumes.
While reading this astonishing book I could not help but feel a bit guilty. At the same time in 1974 that Annie Shrank was experiencing poverty, drought, famine, and political upheaval in Ethiopia - and lamenting that this was not the Africa of her dreams - I was two countries to the South, in a lush rain forest in Tanzania, watching chimpanzees with Jane Goodall. Had Ms. Shrank shown up at Jane's camp back then I'm absolutely certain that Jane would have welcomed her to stay. Both have incredible determination and share a deep compassion for people and for animals.
While in Africa I had many remarkable experiences but nothing resembling what Annie Shrank encountered in Northern Ethiopia. Isolated in the remote town of Mekele during a period of increasing political unrest, she managed to thrive under circumstances that would have sent most Americans packing for home.
To her credit she made friends easily, was very resourceful, and was quickly "adopted" by a loving Italian family that had established roots in Mekele and helped her adapt to the foreign land and culture. Her story, told with incredible detail and passion, is beautifully written and entertaining. I recommend it without reservation and look forward to reading about her subsequent adventures in East Africa.
We are indebted to Annie Schrank for drawing us into this vibrant and exotic part of the world and allowing us to share her fascinating adventures. Not only is this book an amazing personal account, but as the tale of her exploits unfolds, the reader is increasingly touched and moved by her experiences. She offers such remarkable insight in this vivid narrative that the reader is not only captivated but thoroughly vested. The most amazing aspect of this story for me is Annie's willingness to venture out of her comfort zone and face the unknown and the unfamiliar. Within the context of a dangerous political climate and the numerous obstacles encountered along the way, there is an inspiring lesson here for those who have the courage to face a great challenge, the willingness to overcome adversity, and the determination to achieve remarkable results.
Since I left Ethiopia, all I want to do is go back, and I have. Annie has written the most accurate account and the country's description. When she uses native words for things, they're words I use, when she describes the aroma (good or not so good) it's as I remember. Her story reads so well, with so much artistic description. Attached are two shots familiar to anyone who has come to Ethiopia. If there were more stars, Annie would get all of them. Thanks for my trip back home Annie.
With talk about Jane Goodall I was afraid I wouldn’t like this book. I actually loved it. This is a story of a privileged life in the USA and a young girl dreaming of Africa. Annie had a wonderful family and her father encouraged her to follow her dreams. Her experiences in Africa are wonderful, helping the people around her to learn English and learning so much in the bargain. I am not sure how happy I would be living in a round house with no water/toilet/shower etc but she never complains and makes the best of everything thrown her way. I highly recommend this book.
This is a captivating story following a young woman in her first adventure in Africa. Annie Schrank describes the people, culture and customs all woven in with adventure and a little romance! I highly recommend for a good summer read that will teach you along the way. Look at her facebookpage to see several actual photo of the factory. Worth The effort to see how the interviewer
What a thrilling adventure Annie Schrank describes in her Africa experiences! I was lucky to read the manuscript previously and love the book even more because of the vivid detail Annie embedded. I felt like I was in Africa with her! I started reading it on a flight and was perturbed when the pilot announced we were landing. Although I was on my way to Kentucky, I felt like I was transported to Africa instead! It was such a great book that I can't wait for it to turn into a movie!
Annie Shrank has written about her adventure into Africa to run a business in a very remote part of Ethiopia and her eventual scramble to leave after political turmoil overtakes that country. She ends up in Kenya where she finds calm to recover from the Ethiopian turmoil. A fascinating read of her rather unorthodox African experience.
Read this for my book club and I’m so glad I did. This is a coming of age story that will inspire, entertain and provide insights into different cultures for readers in all different stages of life. A sleeper that wowed me.