A mother's gritty yet often humorous account of bringing up her five children in a lion research camp; a 21st-century MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS with a dark side
Kate Nicholls left England to raise her five children in Botswana: an experience that would change each of their lives. Living on a shoestring in a lion conservation camp, Kate home-schools her family while they also learn at first hand about the individual lives of wild lions. Their deep attachment to these magnificent animals is palpable.
The setting is exotic but it is also precarious. When the author is subjected to a brutal attack by three men, it threatens to destroy her and her family: post-traumatic stress turns a good mother into a woman who is fragmented and out of control.
In this powerfully written, raw and often warmly funny memoir, we witness the devastation of living with a mother whose resilience is almost broken, and how familial structures shift as the children mature and roles change. UNDER THE CAMEL TREE addresses head-on the many issues surrounding motherhood, education, independence, and the natural world; and highlights the long-lasting effect of gender violence on secondary victims. Above all, it is an inspiring account of family love, and a powerful beacon of hope for life after trauma.
An astonishing story ... Nicholls carries us through her experiences with a searing honesty that for me was hugely educational and deeply moving.
A life lived beyond the dreams of most of us. It's a real page-turner - Jeremy Irons
Bursting with humour, intelligence and fierce humanity, Under the Camelthorn Tree takes you on a breathtaking journey: anthropological and personal. It is an unflinchingly brave, generous book filled with the wisdom of one who has seen both the beauty and the darkness the world has to give - Sophie Dahl
A wonderfully rich and honest memoir of an extraordinary life by an extraordinary person. A book that somehow manages to be both charming and challenging, a bit like Africa herself. The writing is as light as a sonnet but it is the honesty that anchors it to reality - a special book - Tim Butcher
Under the Camelthorn Tree is remarkable, wild as a pride of lions -- heartbreaking, relentlessly truthful, funny. Kate Nicholls steps into life's beauties and hardships with a rare and extraordinary courage: you will love this book, and love Kate too - Erica Wagner, Harper's Bazaar
A sort of Life Force personified, a whirlwind of love and motherhood and science; beautiful woman, brutally true, impossibly brave, impossibly stylish, just plain bloody impossible. Self-taught in science, this poet of the Okavango home-schooled - right through to good universities - four remarkable children in a remote camp surrounded by individually known, radio-tracked lions. After tirelessly working to rehabilitate Botswana's rape victims, her own horrific rape and its aftermath threatened to destroy her life and the family idyll but . . . well, read the whole beautiful book to the end. You'll never see another memoir like this
'Under The Camelthorn Tree is a breathtaking memoir written with an abundance of wit, honesty and love. Over the course of a page I found myself weeping, giggling, inspired, challenged, but never lectured to. Kate's humour is infectious, her honesty and vulnerability emboldening and her language precise in conjuring the sights, sounds and smells of her unique journey' - Harry Michell
Kate was born in England in 1954 and raised in a theatrical family. Kate left home and school age sixteen, and supported herself working at numberless odd jobs, until she began a successful television and theatre career playing leading roles at the RSC and the National Theatre. In her thirties she read a book that changed her life and she gave up acting to study biology. Between 1976 and 1994, she had six children with whom she has travelled widely.