About the Book
About the Book
Mary Kingsley and Lily Austin are two women born more than a century apart. They will never meet, yet they sense each other's existence. For each, the other is a confidante with whom she can share her sense of displacement in the world. Because her curiosity about the world is stronger than her fear of traveling alone in a strange and dangerous country, Mary is set apart from other women her age. Lily sets herself apart from others because she is determined to be true to herself, even if it means leaving college without graduating, marrying a man she has only recently met, caring for a child alone, and living each day with no idea about what the next day will hold. Both are women of their time, stifled by its conformities, but also freed by their realization that the rules do not apply to them simply because they do not believe in the rules.
Throughout the novel, marriages dissolve and are reformed, acquaintances become lovers, and strangers become friends. Families are torn apart by divorce or betrayal, or knit together by convenience and circumstance. Truths are withheld out of fear of rejection and reprisal -- and then revealed with more painful consequences. When disrupted by tragedy, death, and even birth, the order that a family brings to the world may feel random and false. Yet it is that very connection that so many of these characters crave. Richard Bausch reminds us how frail we are, how needy and selfish we can be, and yet how generous we are when we love and are loved by the right people.
Through Bausch's uncanny sense of place, the dark jungles of Africa -- swarming with killer insects smaller than a fingernail and man-eating crocodiles larger than a boat -- as well as 19th century Cambridge's crowded, fetid streets vividly come to life. A lazy, late summer afternoon, poolside at a sprawling Mississippi estate reeks of hedonistic pleasure, even when compared to the French Quarter during Mardi Gras. Yet no matter how comfortable their surroundings, both Lily and Mary feel suffocated in places where the natives are only too happy offer opinions on how to live, think and act.
Hello to the Cannibals reveals with delicious complexity the lives of two intriguing female explorers. One explores the world, the other explores the terrain of her own heart, yet both women fight their battles with courage and truth, both struggle to feel at home in the world. This sweeping novel reminds us that truthfully lived, one's life is never anything less than a perilous, mysterious, and wondrous journey.