Brazzaville Beach, by William Boyd

The one with Hope Clearwater, who's scientist recording the behaviour of a troop of chimpanzees, in an African country that's experiencing civil war. She tells her own story, with flashbacks to her earlier life with her eccentric mathematician husband, interspersed with events with the chimps and her adventures in Africa.

I've read this before, and had a memory of Sue recommending it to me. But it wasn't published until 1990, so it can't have been Sue. What I had remembered was the disturbing chimp behaviour; what I'd forgotten was how disturbing that was, and I'd also forgotten all the other aspects of the story.

I'd got the audiobook out of the library and was entranced by the narrator, Harriet Walter, who did a fantastic job - she had a dreamy, slightly uninterested style, which fitted really well. On about disc 5 the CD was so badly scratched it was unplayable, so I took it back to the library and bought the Kindle book with audible narration (the same recording) and listened to the whole lot.

I think the book was pretty good in its own right, but HW really brought it to life, so I'm glad I bought it and would listen to it again.

I highlighted a couple of bits in the Kindle book:

'Look at the chimpanzees,' Ntino said, 'look how they swing so easily through the branches. This is the happiness of the chimpanzee.'

'How can you know?' Iko said. 'You are not a chimpanzee. How can you know if it is happy or not?'

'You are not me,' Ntino said. 'How do you know that I do not know the happiness of the chimpanzee.'

The paths were spattered with coins of sunlight

Completed : 24-May-2016 (audiobook)

[nickoh] [2016 books] [books homepage]