Too Close to the Sun
The Audacious Life and Times of Denys Finch Hatton
By Sara Wheeler
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780812968927, 336pp.)
Publication Date: July 14, 2009
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A champion of Africa, legendary for his good looks, his charm, and his prowess as a soldier, lover, and hunter, Denys Finch Hatton inspired Karen Blixen to write the unforgettable Out of Africa. Now esteemed British biographer Sara Wheeler tells the truth about this extraordinarily charismatic adventurer.
Born to an old aristocratic family that had gambled away most of its fortune, Finch Hatton grew up in a world of effortless elegance and boundless power. In 1910, searching for something new, he arrived in British East Africa and fell in love–with a continent, with a landscape, with a way of life that was about to change forever. In Nairobi, Finch Hatton met Karen Blixen and embarked on one of the great love affairs of the twentieth century. Intellectual equals, Finch Hatton and Blixen were genuine pioneers in a land that was quickly being transformed by violence, greed, and bigotry. Ever restless, Finch Hatton wandered into a career as a big-game hunter and became an expert bush pilot. Mesmerized all his life by the allure of freedom and danger, Finch Hatton was, writes Wheeler, “the open road made flesh.”
Like Denys Finch Hatton, Sara Wheeler was educated at Brasenose College, Oxford. Her books include Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica; Travels in a Thin Country; and Cherry: A Life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard, all available from the Modern Library. When not traveling, Wheeler lives with her family in London.
“What is it about these untamable men that makes them so alluring? . . . In Finch Hatton, [Sara] Wheeler has found the archetypal wanderer forced to straddle multiple worlds. He embodies the contradictions of the early modern age and, in some ways still, of ours.”—New York Times Book Review
“A fascinating portrait of . . . a singularly romantic life.”—Vogue
“Highly recommended . . . Wheeler’s striking descriptions of East Africa, including Kenya and the Rift Valley, create a rich sense of place and time.”—Library Journal
“Wheeler’s fascinating, witty bio reveals her wonderful eye for telling details.”—Entertainment Weekly