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Publisher's Summary

Out of Africa:

In this audiobook, the author of Seven Gothic Tales gives a true account of her life on her plantation in Kenya. She tells with classic simplicity of the ways of the country and the natives; of the beauty of the Ngong Hills and coffee trees in blossom; of her guests, from the Prince of Wales to Knudsen, the old charcoal burner, who visited her; of primitive festivals; of big game that were her near neighbors - lions, rhinos, elephants, zebras, buffaloes; and of Lulu, the little gazelle who came to live with her, unbelievably ladylike and beautiful.

Shadows on the Grass:

Isak Dineson takes up the absorbing story of her life in Kenya begun in the unforgettable Out of Africa, which she published under the name of Karen Blixon. With warmth and humanity, these four stories illuminate her love for the African people, their dignity and traditions, and the beauty and wildness of the landscape. The first three were written in the 1950s and the last, "Echoes from the Hills", was written especially for this volume in the summer of 1960, when the author was in her 70s. In all they provide a moving final chapter to her African reminiscences.

©2015 Random House Audio; 2011 Isak Dinesen

What listeners say about Out of Africa & Shadows on the Grass

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Jay Quintana
  • 26-03-16

Sketches of Africa

This is beautifully written. We learn about the land, the people, the animals, and the farm. But very little of Blixen/Dinesen. I don't remember if she relates a single experience with her husband. His presence in the book is that slight. As for the other men in her life, they come across here as nothing more than platonic friends. If you want to know what Africa -- well, the part of Africa where Blixen/Dinesen resided -- was like in the early part of the 20th century, this is a must listen. If you're looking for an absorbing narrative -- the print version of the movie -- this will almost certainly disappoint.

23 people found this helpful

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  • BillieJ
  • 25-10-18

A life well lived.

Years ago when I first read her words they awoke in me a desire to remember her and those wonderful people each of whom were her family while she drank in Africa. It has given me much to strive for in my own life and to take in all those I’m blessed to know. This Audible production was a joy as it accompanied me through days of routines, driving and quiet rain. I’m most grateful to have been touched so thoroughly.

5 people found this helpful

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  • debra
  • 31-08-18

Great Story

Narrator makes it come alive. A life well told and place that time has forgotten.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jenifer Reynolds
  • 21-07-20

Lovely book for its time

A gently written and poignant tale from an earlier time, painting a picture of a beautiful place being spoiled by ignorant colonialism. Even though the author was a colonizer herself, her love for the place and the people where she farmed in Kenya shines through some of her outdated ideas. The use of the term "squatter" for the original inhabitants of her farm is particularly grating, even though it was common parlance at the time. Like George Catlin's portraits and descriptions of Native American society, this book leaves me once again wondering how different this world would look if Europeans had never left Europe. I liked the reader's delivery very much. For me she seemed to capture the spirit of the author, admiring, insightful, wistful, but not sad or depressing.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Susan G. Brink
  • 31-08-19

Superb

A marvelous story teller and human being, Karen Blixen brings alive her time in Kenya after WW I. Her generosity of character and superb descriptions of her friends and servants...Somalians, Masai, Kikuyu and Europeans...enriches the reader and shatters preconceptions.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Deborah Freitag
  • 08-08-17

Disappointing

Any additional comments?

I downloaded this book to listen on the way to/from the office about 1 hrs. drive. It nearly put me to sleep. I was trying very hard to escape into the story but it was so dry. I didn't complete it. I just couldn't get through the long drawn out chapters. I LOVED the screen adaptation and should have just downloaded that one. Live and Learn.

8 people found this helpful

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  • shan Zhang
  • 22-06-17

enjoyed every bit of this book.

What did you love best about Out of Africa & Shadows on the Grass?

described the moon like a silver arch hung on the blue sky.

What other book might you compare Out of Africa & Shadows on the Grass to and why?

green hills of Africa by Hemingway.

What about Susan Lyons’s performance did you like?

peaceful.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Denis was buried in her farm.

Any additional comments?

the book brought my dear memories of Tanzania .

4 people found this helpful

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  • Lindsay Lovinger Watkins
  • 22-04-16

It had my heart from page one!

I could only hope my own life could be rich. I highly recommend filling your life with these stories!

6 people found this helpful

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  • barbara
  • 23-02-19

Insanely unwoke and colonialist but beautiful

This is such a period piece, written by a titled and entitled European who was nonetheless pretty enlightened for her time and class. The author clearly cares about the people who work on her coffee plantation, and takes pains to adjudicate disputes fairly and equitably. She does her best, within the context of the insane colonialist attitudes in which she and the British colonialist government are steeped, to care for her workers and their families. Yet her continual references to "my houseboys" and "my squatters," and the ways in which she attempts to sum up the attitudes and behaviors of entire tribes based on the few she knows, and the horrifying observations about the mental capacities of certain tribes can't help but be severely cringe-worthy. Her description of and buy-in to some of the repressive laws of British colonial Kenya banning certain Kikuyu dances and making it illegal for the Masai to possess spears, for example, bring to mind the worst and most limited white fear-mongering pith-helmeted petty bureaucrats set on trying to control their subjects. It's painful to consider the ways in which colonial governments of that era messed up tribal boundaries and tribal relations, which had worked fine for millennia prior to the arrival of the rapacious white man.

Dineson is at her best when describing wildlife and nature. She has a great eye for the beauty and majesty of the land and its flora and fauna. She is an impressive European female of her era, to be running a farm on her own, killing lions, and working, for a time, running goods for the British government in WWI. Still, this reader, admittedly an animal lover, was nauseated by her wanton killing of wildlife (such as the time she shot an iguana "because I might be able to use its beautiful skin for something" only to discover that its skin turned grey the moment it died). I know those were different times, but the big game hunter mentality is utterly disgusting to me, and there's a lot of that sort of thing in this book.

There's only one mention of her husband, who lived in Europe, and much gushing about Dennis Finch Hatton and others. But the book is really a collection of vignettes about the farm, its workers, and nature.

I'm glad I listened, but at times it was very painful and I almost gave it up. The narrator has a rather piercing upper-class-sounding English inflection, which didn't help. Still, the beauty of the narrative and the fascination for this out-dated way of life are compelling enough to make me glad I stuck with it.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Joe
  • 17-01-21

This was a re-read

I read this book back in 1985 when the movie came out. The book is more about Africa and her adventures than the love story in the movie. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I didn't care for the performance, I have heard tape recordings of Isak. I didn't know if narrator's accent was really the narrator or if she was pretending to be Isak Dinesen. Isak sounds like a difficult person with many issues in her life. We tried to find her house (now a museum in Denmark) but we missed it. I would have liked to see the books that belonged to Denys Finch-Hatton.

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  • Caroline Lawrence
  • 18-01-17

Perfect for Africa!

Another reviewer complained about the reader but I thought she was perfect. This is a beautifully written and fascinating story but be warned: it's not the love story they made the movie into!

3 people found this helpful

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  • mr
  • 05-06-20

Beautiful

This book is a love story between the author and Africa. It will give the reader / listener a deep understanding of Africa and her people. Beautiful

2 people found this helpful

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  • J. Mason
  • 01-05-20

Atmospheric

I loved this audio book
I thought the narration was quite right
Karen was a wonderful women (apart from all the hunting!)
Her stories ring true, clearly you can see them, smell them, feel them and hear the sounds of Africa.
Perfect escapism

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-06-18

A wonderful literary and audio experience

Karen Blixen's writings are captivating, beautifully detailed, sensory, and sometimes magical. It it amazing that one person could have had so many and such diverse experiences as Blixon had during her time in Africa. She romantices nothing and tells her stories with great authenticity when one considers the time and ethos of writing. Her approach is obviously questionable today because of how she addressed and viewed the local populations, especially the othering (almost dehumanization) of Africa's indigenous people. It makes one very uncomfortable on many occasions but it is relevant to experience it to gain more insight into the biases and prejudices that collonial settlers brought with them. The discomfort provides one with a better understanding of this sad part of Africa's history.

The narrator did an excellent job of portraying Blixen's personality. Her intonation and accent sounds uncanningly like several of my Danish friends. Every second of the the 16 hours and 35 minutes was captivating and time well spent. I will surely listen to this audio book again just like I re-read the original books several times over the years.

1 person found this helpful

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  • UrskaF
  • 12-02-16

Terrible performance

It took me a while to find the unabridged audio edition for this book. I love the story and have read it time and again. Unfortunately the narrator took all the pleasure out of this one, for me at least. She speaks way too fast and her voice remains flat all the while. The real pleasure of reading Karen Blixen is not only in the stories but mostly in her writing style and descriptions of things and people. She needs to be savored like a good, expensive wine. In this narrattive she gets chugged down like cheap beer.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 17-01-21

I really struggled to finish it.

I didn't enjoy it, no plot, no thrill, very chaotic
I regret spending the money on it.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-09-18

narrator's voice too nervous/loud

narrator's voice too annoying. She almost shouts at times, like she thinks she's on stage

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  • Abdelhadi Mortada
  • 01-08-18

Great narration, and the text then revield itself.

A great book. It was written with fine observation of the mileu the author in which she in among was quite fulfilled with the indignation of culturalism.