I was given Chasing Hornbills as an advanced reader's copy, so I was thrilled to be one of the first in the world to get stuck into it. I was not disappointed. Chasing Hornbills is more of the quirky, funny Fenton, mixed in with some deep, thoughtful and insightful comments about Africa and also about the West and its obsession with consumerism. I felt this story was definitely more introspective as Fenton questioned his life in Senegal and whether or not it would be better to write the years off as a great experience and head back to the comfort of western civilization. I'm not sure if he's reached a conclusion on that one yet, but if I can read between the lines somewhat, I suspect he is not willing to give up the benefits of that lifestyle, for the frantic, hedonistic ways of the West just yet. In a selfish way, I hope he doesn't because I , for one, would love to see a volume three in this incredible series.
In many ways, I identified with Simon, partly because I'd done a similar thing when I left New Zealand and traded that lifestyle for the world of Manila and The Philippines. I wouldn't suggest, for a second, that I had to port up with the sort of privations Fenton has had to put up with, but I could certainly identify with and empathize with many of the cultural issues he raised in this book. Having a cross-cultural relationship is never easy and I nodded sagely at many points in this story when the author was exasperated by the cultural differences between him, his partner and his partner's family. I found all of this fascinating reading and I really enjoyed the increased introspection in this edition.
If you love travel books about far-away, exotic places, you'll love Chasing Hornbills. If you just want to perhaps remind yourself, just how much you are missing out on by sitting back on the couch watching television, then this is the book for you. Fenton's love of Senegal, its people, and West Africa shines through in every paragraph, despite his regular frustrations with officials and family. I can get him and I understand that the love and respect for his partner and his children is what carries him through the tough times.
Truly, this book deserves a wide audience. In my mind it's an absolute winner and a gem. Worth every one of the five stars I'm giving it. Roll on Book No,.3 Mr Fenton.