African Memories – Ndeye Labadens

*I received a free ARC of this novel.  The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

Blurb: Do you enjoy discovering new places?  Are you dreaming of adventure?  Where will you go? 
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Escape to Africa with the beautiful photographs and videos from:

Senegal
Ghana
The Gambia
Mauritania
Cote D’Ivoire or Ivory Coast
Morocco
Cameroon
Nigeria
Egypt
Kenya
Libya
Benin
Cabo Verde
Mali

Give yourself the deserved rest and enjoy the beautiful and stunning pictures of Africa.
Each country displays a unique facet of beautiful Africa with all of its different cultures.
These new places will take you on a journey of discovery, inspiration, and relaxation.
You will feel like being at these places yourself with the author as your personal guide.
The author makes you feel like being there yourself.
Don’t miss out on this opportunity and allow yourself to dive deep into the feeling of holidays and adventure.
Allow your family and friends the unique opportunity to experience this journey with you, by offering them this book as a gift.

This book is unusual in my experience of travel writing, as the author has chosen to heavily utilise other media via links to YouTube videos and Trip Advisor reviews, meaning that the book does not stand alone without accessing these resources.

I found it quite difficult to immerse myself as the style of writing is quite disjointed and the narrative jumps around a bit, and I would often get interested in an anecdote only for it to suddenly stop with the suggestion to read more on the author’s Trip Advisor account, or watch a video narrative on her Facebook or YouTube.  On some occasions vital information was missing from an anecdote:

One funny memory I have is of the unique traffic lights in the Gambia.  I have no idea if it has changed since then, but it was amazing to see unique traffic lights in the country.

– Ndeye Labadens, African Memories

For this to work for me, I needed to know what was unique about the traffic lights and why it was a ‘funny memory’!  I wanted to know what kind of music was on the hated road trip cds, and what food Frankies served to make it her favourite restaurant.  What mean things was the other pilot saying at dinner, and how was he put back in his place?  All of these stories clearly had points of interest, but were only outlined rather than fully brought to life.

About halfway through (around the plane crash) this resolved somewhat, in that there was lots of detailed information about the Senoufou culture and personal anecdotes from the author’s piloting experiences, which created the intimate feeling I had been missing earlier.  Unfortunately a large portion of the earlier chapters is then repeated furrther into the book, although with some new photographs.

Overall I felt there was a lot of potential here that went mostly unfulfilled.  The photos are fascinating, and the author clearly had many interesting experiences on her trip through Africa.  However the content and tone for the first half of the book are not factual enough to form a useful travel guide to the country, but not personal enough in terms of detail and description to represent a personal memoir, and the book could have benefited from some professional editing.

That said, the added resources were great, with some really lovely and interesting videos.  I just wish this content had been used more as a bonus rather than the narrative being so heavily dependent on it for detail.

Imagine being in Louisiana in the United States or in Cuba.  The place was unchanged; the old city had not changed and was like it used to be for centuries.  The same goes for Goree Island.  It is unique, and the owners keep the outside of their home or hotel and restaurant the way it used to be for centuries ago.  The spirit is so peaceful, and it seems like the time is not flying at all.  The stress of the downtonw city is gone or forgotten.

– Ndeye Labadens, African Memories

You can find out more about Ndeye Labadens, her books and her consultancy business here, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.  You can find her TripAdvisor reviews here.

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