Leaving Before the Rains Come

by Alexandra Fuller

Hardcover, 2015

Call number




Penguin Press (2015), Edition: y First printing, 272 pages


Biography & Autobiography. Family & Relationships. Nonfiction. HTML:The New York Times Bestseller from the author of Travel Light, Move Fast "One of the gutsiest memoirs I've ever read. And the writing�oh my god the writing."�Entertainment Weekly A child of the Rhodesian wars and daughter of two deeply complicated parents, Alexandra Fuller is no stranger to pain. But the disintegration of Fuller�s own marriage leaves her shattered. Looking to pick up the pieces of her life, she finally confronts the tough questions about her past, about the American man she married, and about the family she left behind in Africa. A breathtaking achievement, Leaving Before the Rains Come is a memoir of such grace and intelligence, filled with such wit and courage, that it could only have been written by Alexandra Fuller. Leaving Before the Rains Come begins with the dreadful first years of the American financial crisis when Fuller�s delicate balance�between American pragmatism and African fatalism, the linchpin of her unorthodox marriage�irrevocably fails. Recalling her unusual courtship in Zambia�elephant attacks on the first date, sick with malaria on the wedding day�Fuller struggles to understand her younger self as she overcomes her current misfortunes. Fuller soon realizes what is missing from her life is something that was always there: the brash and uncompromising ways of her father, the man who warned his daughter that "the problem with most people is that they want to be alive for as long as possible without having any idea whatsoever how to live." Fuller�s father�"Tim Fuller of No Fixed Abode" as he first introduced himself to his future wife�was a man who regretted nothing and wanted less, even after fighting harder and losing more than most men could bear. Leaving Before the Rains Come showcases Fuller at the peak of her abilities, threading panoramic vistas with her deepest revelations as a fully grown woman and mother. Fuller reveals how, after spending a lifetime fearfully waiting for someone to show up and save her, she discovered that, in the end, we all simply have to save ourselves. An unforgettable book, Leaving Before the Rains Come is a story of sorrow grounded in the tragic grandeur and rueful joy only to be found in Fuller�s Africa.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Crazymamie
"For the first time, I was beginning to see that for a woman to speak her mind in any clear, unassailable, unapologetic way, she must first possess it."

I am giving this book 4.25 stars with the caveat that in order to fully appreciate it, one should read her preceding two memoirs first. Fuller
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tends to tell her stories in a non-linear fashion, weaving in and out of past and present, detouring from the relevant to the immaterial. And she likes to refer to previous events that helped to shape the woman that she is today. In order to follow her brilliant writing and her difficult journey, it is best to have started at the beginning with her. I love how she writes and how she thinks about things. This book focuses on the disintegration of her marriage, but it is about so much more than that. It is about finding your own voice. About deciding for yourself what your journey will encompass.

"For a while, in that same Peugeot, it was possible to watch the road whip by as we drove, dust billowing up into the backseat in a reddish film until Mum put bits of cardboard down where the floorboards had rusted through. She painted sunsets, giraffes, and flowers on the cardboard, and signed her name in the corners with a flourish, 'Like the Sistine Chapel, only not on the ceiling,' she said. 'Although I wouldn't stand on it if I were you, or you'll plop right out.' Which served to prove to me from an early age that imminent danger and innovative beauty were often closely linked."
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LibraryThing member etxgardener
To paraphrase Tolstoy, all happy marriages are alike, but all unhappy ones are unhappy in their own special way. In Alexandra Fuller's new memoir, she writes about the coming apart of her marriage of 20+ years with a lot of looking back at her life in Africa and the marriage of her parents which
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has seemed to endure despite countless hardships.

I love Fuller's first two books - Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight and Cocktails Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, but this volume seems altogether too self-indulgent.She marries her husband because he will "keep her safe" and protect her from the dangerous chaos of Southern Africa but then becomes disenchanted when he turns out to be just a successful American. Paging Dr. Freud: we get that you wanted a more stable version of your father, but it doesn't warrant 258 pages of naval gazing. She never seems to realize that the secret to her parents' long marriage is that they didn't think about it too much.

Ms. Fuller is now living in a yurt in Wyoming with a 49-year-old artist. “I feel like I’ve been in a white-water river for 45 years,” she said recently. “Now I’m just lying around the yurt. I couldn’t have been more in need of a place to rest.” Let's hope after she has rested she'll find something new & better to write about.
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LibraryThing member rglossne
This book had a lot of structural problems, I think. I enjoyed the bits with her eccentric African family, a vein that Fuller has mined before to great effect. The dissolution of her marriage was messy, and difficult to understand, told backward and forward in time. However, Fuller can write like
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nobody's business, so I enjoyed this book which I received as an early release ebook from First to Read.
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LibraryThing member shazjhb
I much preferred her first book. Alexandra is not South African but she has a strong sense of Africa. I prefer the focus on Africa because I can identify and understand this - she really gives a good sense of central Africa. Less interested in a marriage that does not work. Also her family did not
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live in Africa for very long and seemed somewhat identified with England.
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LibraryThing member bobbieharv
She is such a good writer. This book had less a sense of place, and seemed a little less accessible than either of her first two books, but it was still powerful.

In the end, though, I'm not sure I really understand what the problem was with her marriage, and maybe she's not either (or maybe she
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just couldn't write as openly about it as she did her family in her earlier books). Also would have liked to learn more about her children, who seemed quite distant figures.
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LibraryThing member ccayne
I never get tired of reading Fuller.
LibraryThing member carolfoisset
Another installment of Fuller's memoirs and I have loved all of them. She is a beautiful writer and her life story is incredible. I listened to this book and she is the reader - I could listen to her voice all day long! Highly recommend!!
LibraryThing member Jeannine504
Alexander Fuller writes in a voice different from most writers about a world very different from a typical US setting and was worth reading for those reasons alone.
LibraryThing member brangwinn
If you read Fuller’s autobiography Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: an African Childhood you’ll want to read this follow-up book. Here she explores the disintegration of her marriage and how her independent childhood in Africa shaped her and helped lead to the dissolution. As always her
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writing is compelling and thought- provoking.
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LibraryThing member LynnB
I've read all of Alexandra Fuller's autobiographies/memoirs. This latest installment is more thoughtful and contemplative as she explores her relationship with her soon-to-be ex-husband. As always, her writing is honest and thought provoking. I do think, however, that readers will not enjoy this
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book as much as possible if they haven't read Ms. Fuller's earlier works, especially Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight.
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LibraryThing member jennybeast
This is a fabulous continuation of Bobo Fuller's memoirs, and she maintains her funny, heartbreaking, no-nonsense voice. I don't know why she lets us in (well, she says it's for the money), but I'm incredibly inspired by her willingness to do so, and by her unflinching narration and her thoughtful
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Not least, and this is a sort of petty thing, but as a single woman I really appreciate a memoir that does not end all wrapped up in a wedding bow. She had a love story, a family. She has a painful divorce and a massive identity shift and she just tells that story. She leaves it where she is, she doesn't get rescued by a new relationship, she doesn't suddenly have an epiphany that leads to wealth or travel. It's not easy on her or her husband or her kids, but they survive it, and that's what I, as a reader and another real person need to see -- the crap comes and you survive it. Your heart breaks and you survive it.

I hope that there are more stories in the future, because I love spending reading time with her.
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LibraryThing member TheGalaxyGirl
Alexandra Fuller is a beautiful writer. Her life has been a series of traumatic incidents that would damage anyone, and at the end of the day, she is better suited for dealing with chaos and crisis than she is for prosperity and peace. I feel like she and her husband were just too far apart
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culturally to ever really mesh. This story of the dissolution of a marriage is a little disorganized, but perhaps that is an accurate reflection of their relationship. I think one has to read her first memoir Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight to appreciate this one. There is pain on every page.
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