I’ve been reading some books written about and by people who have lived in Africa, and over the next couple of weeks I’d like to share my thoughts about some of these and their authors.
The first title is “Born on Friday 13th” by Anna Murray.
While her childhood was spent in Kenya, that is incidental to her story, which centres on the loss of her only child, Anthony.
Anna was born in East Africa on Friday 13th. The death of her father at a young age left her mother to raise her children single-handed, which she did by sheer hard work, and in some ways Anna’s youth was privileged, growing up in a beautiful country and riding to school on her pony. But when her mother died, Anna had to leave for further education in England, in the care of her aunt. She studied catering, which was going to stand her in good stead later in life.
Without parental support and guidance, she became involved in a relationship with a dubious character who was wanted by the police, and went on the run with him, while expecting a child. The relationship did not survive, but gave her a beautiful blond son, also born on Friday 13th. Like her own mother, she devoted every ounce of energy and enterprise to give her child the best life and education possible, which sometimes required them both to make painful sacrifices. Anthony grew into a handsome, athletic young man; and then in one day, his life was ended in a freak accident. On Friday 13th.
After that, Anna had to find a way to continue with her life, which she did by immersing herself in work and building up a successful catering business in Chantilly, France. But around every corner life was waiting to pounce and try to drag her down. However, she is not one to give up, and despite much illness and continuing heartbreak, she’s still standing. Little wonder, though, that she “will always be a little afraid of Friday 13th.”
She tells her tale without artifice or cries for sympathy. The writing is matter-of-fact, as if Anna is keeping her emotions tightly under control lest they erupt and overwhelm her and her readers.
The basic Kindle version suffers from the common blight of images upsetting the formatting, but the images themselves give a fascinating look into her life and are best viewed in the Amazon app on a tablet.
I felt that the introductory chapter and her mother’s epic drive, while interesting in their own right, were superfluous and got the narrative off to a slow start, and the chronology is sometimes a little higgledy-piggledy. But don’t be put off by that, because she has an extraordinary, harrowing story to tell, demonstrating the strength of the human spirit when facing the worst that life can keep throwing at it, a story she tells in her own sincere words and way.