Rules of the Wild: A Novel of Africa
By Francesca Marciano
Vintage Books, 1998
Rules of the Wild is an appropriate book to review in the wake of Valentines Day. Francesca Marciano deftly writes about love and attraction. Set in an expat community in Nairobi, Rules of the Wild captures the life of a young Italian woman, Esme, who is in love with two men. Adam, her boyfriend, is a white African who leads safaris for rich Americans and Europeans, and is a man of the bush and his hands. Hunter, her lover, is a white English war reporter who seeks out danger and lives in his head.
The book begins after Esme’s affair with Hunter ends and his new girlfriend, Claire, comes to live with him in Nairobi. However, Hunter is reporting a story when Claire arrives, so Esme picks Claire up at the airport. The story then flashes back to Esme’s arrival in Kenya, and how she met both Adam and Hunter, while telling the present-day story of Esme and Claire crossing paths in Nairobi. The book chronicles the stories of multiple expat characters, while delving into Esme’s love for both men. I found this book to be engrossing and engaging. I flew right through it.
Marciano, an Italian, published her fourth book in 2014, a story collection called The Other Language. She lives in Rome, but has lived in Kenya and the US, and also spends time in India. I only discovered her last year, when I read a review of her latest book. I look forward to exploring more of her work.