Leaving Before the Rains Came by Alexandra Fuller, abridged by Richard Hamilton

Contact Us

Enter subhead content here

Leaving Before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller, abridged by Richard Hamilton. Prod. Justine Willett. Perf. Tracy-Ann Oberman. BBC Radio 4, 16-20 February 2015. BBCiPlayer to 22 March 2015.

This Book of the Week production was a tour de force for Tracy-Ann Oberman, who not only revealed a talent for accidents, ranging from Southern African to mittel-American, but managed to get inside the narrator's consciousness.

This was especially important in "Leaving before the Rains Came," which underwent a significant tonal shift as the narrative unfolded. In the first two episodes, the author Alexandra Fuller adopts an affectionate yet detached position as she recalls life with her eccentric family in Africa; her encounters with her father (a character if there ever was one), and her attempts to create what for her seemed a normal life. Many of her reminiscences were punctuated by witty epigrams - for example, when she married adventurer Charlie Ross, she believed that their future life would comprise "three rifles, supplies for a month and Mozart of 'Out of Africa' without the plane crashes, syphilis and Danish accent."

Once the couple moved to the United States, however, life changed significantly. Charlie became a real-estate agent while Alexandra tried unsuccessfully to become a writer while bringing up the children. She found herself hemmed in by a lifestyle which, although it had certain advantages (the Wyoming landscape offering plenty of opportunities for the kind of derring-do expeditions that Alexandra and Charlie both loved), also seemed quite limiting. Gradually the couple drifted apart; and were about to separate when Charlie had a life-threatening accident while on horseback.

Alexandra was presented with a dilemma; should she keep the marriage going, or should she branch out on her own? At this point her memoir adopts a serious tone quite out of character with the earlier chapters; her decision would eventually determine how her future would be mapped out. Oberman's vocal style changed; rather than trying to keep listeners amused with vocal virtuosity, she tried to communicate the agonies Alexandra experienced as she came to her decision. In the end, that decision proved the right one, as she finally made it as a writer, but it was only achieved after a considerable amount of heart-searching.

At the end we were left with the impression that Alexandra has achieved happiness, but only after negotiating several crises.

Enter supporting content here