Re-reading after some years: Shadows on the Grass, published in the 60s (Penguin). The cover illustration is an oil painting by Blixen, of a Somali child who was one of her servants in Kenya. She came to realise that he was a mathematical genius. When he begged to be to sent to school, she 'scraped the money together', She also bought him a typewriter when he asked for it. Many years later, he wrote to thank her and explained that the typewriter gave him a significant advantage when he applied for jobs. He became a judge.
She wrote in English, a foreign language for her. Are writers for whom English is not the mother tongue more free to write in unusual ways ? (Thinking of the Pakistani/British writer Nadeem Aslam, for instance.)
Here are the two sentences I most loved:
The first for the way the structure represents Berkeley Cole's leisurely, round-about journey:
"On a day in the beginning of the long rains Berkeley Cole came round the farm from up-country, on his way to Nairobi." (p. 69, The Great Gesture).
Also, for being thought-provoking:'
"A gift may be named after both the giver and the receiver, and in this way my inspiration is my own, more even than anything else I possess, and is still the gift of God." (p. 96, Echoes from the Hills).
All along this book, I heard in my mind the deep longing in Meryl Streep's voice at the start of the film Out of Africa: "I had a farm in Africa." Great acting.
I have just read Penelope Lively's How it all started, about the unexpected ways in which a person's action can affect others. Clumsy and uncharming in comparison, thought Blixen does set the bar rather high.