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Elspeth and her unconventional parents decide to settle down in Kenya and begin a coffee plantation. This is a time of discovery for Elspeth, as she encounters the incredible beauty and cruelty of nature, and new friendships with both Africans and British expatriates. A side plot involves the beautiful and bored British Lettice Palmer who enters into an affair with a handsome safari guide. Eventually, however, the excitement of Elspeth's life is disrupted by the onset of WW I, and the changes it brings Written by
Rhea Worrell <email@example.com>
Vivid portrait of English colonial life in Kenya...with a disclaimer
This is an extremely well crafted mini series that depicts one colonial British family's experiences in Kenya. The African wilderness scenery is absolutely breathtaking. It is based on one of three autobiographical books by Elspeth Huxley. I found the series to have a similar flavour to the film Out of Africa (starring Meryl Streep & Robert Redford), another Kenyan coffee plantation saga based on the tale of the Danish woman, Karen (Isak) Dinesen Blixen.
The series chronicles the life experiences of the Grants, an unconventional English family consisting of the mother Tilly, father Robin, and daughter Elspeth. It shows their struggles as they endeavor to establish a coffee plantation in Kenya, their interactions with both the African natives and the other British colonials...all mainly as seen from the perspective of the young Elspeth. The life they establish in Kenya is interrupted by the onset of World War I.
I tuned in to the series mainly because I am quite a fan of Hayley Mills, who is very effective here in her role as Tilly Grant, the lovely mother coping with the challenges of life in an exotic country. Holly Aird is particularly engaging as her inquisitive daughter, Elspeth, who makes friends both from among the British and the native Africans. David Robb plays her handsome father, Robin Grant. Sharon Maughan is the bored Lettice Palmer who has an affair with a safari guide, and Ben Cross the know it all newcomer, Ian Crawfurd.
Personally, I am not much of an advocate of past British (or other European) colonialism which intruded their presumed superior culture onto the supposedly lesser ignorant & savage peoples of Africa, India, or wherever. The efforts of the British to make a good life for themselves were sometimes to the detriment of the native people's. While I am no expert on the historical accuracy of this particular depiction, the natives are portrayed as superstitious, with a possible air of the condescension typical of such colonial tales.
Enthusiasts of the series might not be pleased to read my criticisms of colonialism, but they are true, nevertheless. Despite my general misgivings about such ethical issues, I am ranking this generally well made series quite highly because it does paint such an interesting portrait and is a captivating story of this family's experiences.
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