By Isak Dinesen
If you've seen the movie, you know her story: Isak Dinesen is the pen name of Karen Blixen, who leaves Denmark for a coffee farm in Africa. What she learns about herself in the process of acclimating to this very difficult land forms the basis of the book. It's like poetry; you can feel Africa come alive in the words. What's fascinating is that Dinesen was known for writing Gothic fairy tales full of flowery language, but this book is light, open, airy—very much like the African savanna. It seems as if the stark beauty of the continent required her to find a new way of describing things. What has always interested me is how Dinesen reveals the least about the things that meant the most. The best example is the relationship between her and Denys Finch-Hatton. The most glaring omissions occur when she talks about Denys. I love the idea of writers who realize that words sometimes cannot begin to cover the things they need to say.