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Book Review: Wildflower: An Extraordinary Life and Untimely Death in Africa

Joan Root was in love: With her husband, her native Africa, the animals that surrounded her and her home. She built a life filming those things with her husband, award winning documentary film director, Alan Root. But after Alan left her for another woman, she had to rediscover who she was and what in life was worth fighting for. She found that in her home – her 80 acres and small farm on the banks of Lake Naivasha in Kenya. When industrial hot houses that “farmed” roses started flourishing on the banks of the lake, and poachers started invading her land to capture the wildlife and fish, Joan found a cause – that of rescuing the lake and rehabilitating those causing the most harm. What she didn’t realize was by championing this effort, she was setting in motion a chain of events that would ultimately lead to her brutal death.

Author Mark Seal has taken the life of a quiet, devoted woman, who wanted nothing more than to live a life with Alan and her animals, and written a beautiful tribute. He was given access to her many letters and diaries – and it was as if Joan herself was speaking to us.

We learn of the extraordinary talents she had organizing the many safaris, hot air balloon trips, and expeditions, they took to film the amazing documentaries that she and Alan made together. How she put herself in harm’s way to get exactly the right film shot and scene. She spent endless hours on location and in conditions most people wouldn’t tolerate. We also learn of the tremendous heartbreak she endured – and never really recovered from – when the love of her life left her for another woman. She was always looking to the skies – waiting for Alan to return, via helicopter, to the home they shared on Lake Naivasha.

Finally we learn of the tragic outcome – the home invasions, the threats made against her and her property, when she singularly took it upon herself to save the greatest thing of all – her land.

This was an amazing story, about an unassuming, but powerful woman, whose life was tragically ended.

Book source: Public library

Melissa Mc is a mother of 3; wife of 1; daughter, sister, friend, aunt; lover of football, politics, food, travel, walking, theatre and all things literary.

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