Oleander, Jacaranda


Life for a young English girl growing up in Egypt is a hazy world of strange sights, sounds and smells: the stifling heat, the white and blue scented oleander and jacaranda, the waving sugar-cane, the dusty paths trodden by donkeys and barefoot village children, the grand shuttered houses, the snake-charmer in the garden, the broad, brown Nile itself.

And for a child whose parents are preoccupied with the whirl of expat life and whose nanny is the centre of her universe, it can be bewildering and lonely.

Penelope Lively's remarkable memoir of her colonial upbringing is a moving meditation on the perceptions, confusions and elusive joys of childhood.

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