I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills.
And her sweeping autobiography told of her sad life in colonial Kenya as a failing coffee plantation owner, as an unhappy wife, as a bereaved mistress. We all remember the breathtaking shots from Sidney Pollack's Oscar-winning film: Robert Redford's Gypsy Moth moving over the green hills of East Africa; Meryl Streep grieving on her dramatic country verandah.
As much as I was entranced by these words, I soon felt guilty for ever being swayed by them. As a young wife posted in pre-war Mogadishu, we visited Isak Dinesen's house on the outskirts of Nairobi. We walked quietly through the preserved, wood-lined rooms, past her trunks, onto the waiting verandah. The guide that day was irritated to see us and unhappily answered our silly questions about Meryl Streep. No, it wasn't the house they used in the movie. Yes, they are the Ngong Hills.
So I put together a gallery. Like Dinesen I had a mournful time of it for various reasons. Sometimes, I look at the pieces I salvaged and they give me uneasy comfort.