Francis King

African Queen

My Mother’s Lovers


Atlantic Books 442pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

Someone remarks of Kathleen, dominant presence and mother of this novel’s narrator, Alexander, that ‘she takes lovers the way other people take hot showers’. Indeed, she takes so many lovers, often simultaneously, in the course of a life of reckless adventure in Africa that Alexander can only suspect, and never be sure, that the man who begot him was a Limey from Leicester who, on his emigration to Africa, had eventually become a deranged, half-naked white witch doctor. How she captivates all these lovers – ranging from a leopard-man, whom she briefly and disastrously welcomes into her home, to owners of thousands of acres of jungle in remote, steamy corners of the continent – can only be ascribed to the perpetual mystery of human attraction. 

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