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One Dry Season cover art

One Dry Season

Written by: Caroline Alexander
Narrated by: Lisette Lecat
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Publisher's Summary

With richly evocative images and wonderfully entertaining anecdotes, Caroline Alexander transports you to the dense interior of equatorial Gabon. In One Dry Season, she chronicles her adventures as she makes her way alone through dangerously primitive territory.

When she first read of Victorian explorer Mary Kingsley’s travels in the French colony of Gabon, Alexander knew she had to experience the present-day nation for herself. Soon she is retracing Kingsley’s route - struggling through tangled vines in humid rain forests, chugging up the churning Ogooué River in a packed steamer, and fending off gigantic cockroaches. The country she discovers is a challenging mixture of Africa’s exotic past and its practical present.

A splendid storyteller, Caroline Alexander introduces you to the colorful new friends she made along the trail, including a shy mission nun, a half-mad French woman, and a village chief who treated her as an errant teenaged daughter. Lisette Lecat’s expert narration brings out all the excitement of today’s Africa.

©1989 Caroline Alexander (P)1998 Recorded Books

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  • John S.
  • 03-02-13

How much can one say about Gabon?

I haven't read Kingsley's book, but admire Alexander's planning in following the literary trail she left behind. Still, if you're expecting historical footsteps as the primary focus here, it doesn't quite work that way. Roughly half of the book is a modern travel narrative, having little or nothing to do with Kingsley, which was fine by me, but that writer's fans may find the footsteps angle a bit thin. Also, Alexander spends a fair amount of time on a side story of a missionary physician whom Kingsley had met on her journey. Overall, a pleasant read, where not much really happens of note - no wildly challenging monkey wrenches typical of other African adventures: she goes places (some Kingsley-related, others not), meets people, reports what she finds, and moves on to the next location. Lecat's narration came across as a bit more ... patrician, and seems a bit more mature, than I'd expected of Alexander herself, giving the story the air of a Womens' Institute talk from local gentry; however, as there aren't really any truly dramatic moments, that wasn't such a bad fit.

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  • Sylvia
  • 25-07-21

Captivating journey, if you like this kind of thing!

South African Lisette Lecat is, to many of us, the voice of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. It is with the same beautiful narration that she tells “One Dry Season”.
This travelogue is well-written and fascinating. The author points out the many differences and similarities in the geography as well as the culture of Gabon compared to the 1800s and early 1900s. She tells stories within her own story about Mary Kingsley, Trader Horn, Dr. Nassar, and other prominent figures of bygone days.
I found much that spoke of personalities and relationships and personal growth in the way Alexander presented the histories and her own experiences and impressions following in the footsteps of Kingsley. There were many instances where I paused to think about character development (I mean human, not literary character development), including my own character.
If you enjoy Lecat as a narrator, you will enjoy this book. If you like to read about traveling in the jungle and in unusual cultures, you will like this book. (I know many people not so inclined and they would not enjoy this book.)
My only problem with the book was that sometimes I became confused between when the author was speaking and when she was relating someone else’s story (like Mary Kingsley’s or Trader Horn’s). Had I listened more attentively, that would not have been a problem. But I tend to listen to audiobooks while I am doing other things. This was not, however, a serious problem.
I recommend this book for lovers of travelogues, history, and Lisette Lecat’s narration.