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Editorial Reviews. Review. Two women. Two centuries. One novel. It's an almost unthinkable challenge, but one that Richard Bausch (In the Night.
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The novel is ambitious not only in its historical and geographical sweep but also in its author's choice to confine himself, with admirable conviction and credibility, to the consciousness of two women. Parallels of a general sort appear repeatedly. Mary and Lily must each deal with the discovery that her parents' marriage is deeply flawed; each faces a terror that is partly sexual; each takes solace in writing.

Peripheral coincidences also link the two. At one point, Mary mistakenly believes that her father has been killed with Custer at the Little Bighorn. Lily goes to live with her husband's family in Mississippi, in a house built by a man whose son was in fact killed in that massacre. The family's maid traces her ancestry back to Gabon, a place Mary visited. When Lily's husband leaves her and she retreats to New Orleans, she enters a household headed by a woman who knew someone who knew someone who knew Mary Kingsley. Yet to rehearse the connections in this way is to suggest that they dominate the book.

On the contrary.

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The smaller coincidences seem delightfully askew, true to the six-degrees-of-separation nature of chance; the larger experience of the novel is of two quite separate stories only tenuously connected. Though Mary continues through her life to address her future friend, she recounts her adventures in a way not markedly more personal than a travelogue. Though Lily frequently thinks of Mary's tribulations in relation to her own, her speculations are of a generic nature, and she seems to gain no usable insight from them.

The voices of the two women in their journals are not clearly differentiated, and although this may be deliberate, it draws our attention to the device rather than the kinship. Traditionally, the force that propels the travel writer is curiosity; what drives the fictional character is desire. Bausch's Mary Kingsley acknowledges that her ''curiosity is like a drug'' but also speaks of a ''titanic loneliness'' that is not realized on the page.

We believe in her thwarted longing to travel while she is confined with her difficult family, but once she frees herself the main note is exhilaration, and her confessions of fear are at odds with the book's forthright, spunky account of her adventures. Lily, on the other hand, troubled and searching in an era that offers more options, has no convincing professional dimension.

She grew up as the daughter of two actors but conveys no sense of the theater as a place, of the theatrical life. She is frequently referred to as writing or not writing, as volunteering backstage with a local theater group, as fearing she is ''not cut out to be a playwright'' or as ''working on the play in earnest''; but the references are throwaways compared to the focus on her family and marital life.

Though we are told the play is about bravery and centers on memory and hallucination during Mary's last hours, the portions we are given are a markedly undramatic and unrelated series of narrative monologues. In the early parts of the novel, the reader suspects that the evolution of the script will demonstrate Lily's growth. I spent a few hours reading it and then realized I was forcing myself to pick it up. There wasn't a single character I found interesting or identified with.

I would have enjoyed the first person story that opened the book, but I couldn't figure out why it had to be written in distracting italics. Was there a good reason for this? Then the main character did so little to try I just read the reviews of people on this site, and I am glad to see that I had good company in my annoyance of this book. Then the main character did so little to try to understand herself.

I can comprehend the disgust she felt of a near rape and the tension of a parental divorce, but I can't figure out why I should read a book about a person who had so little insight or determination. It was like picking up a newspaper and reading a victim impact report. The explorer story did not help the main character to understand or shape her life so what good was it to her? View all 6 comments. Jan 21, Joel rated it did not like it. While parts of this novel are beautiful to read, especially description, the characters just never really come to life; I ended up not caring all that much what happens to Lily, the heroine.

Most of the book felt like a badly rehearsed play, with scenes running far too long and the actors making the wrong entrances and exits and missing their cues. It could have been much shorter, given how little actually happens on the page. First person was a poor choice for point of view for a work this long, While parts of this novel are beautiful to read, especially description, the characters just never really come to life; I ended up not caring all that much what happens to Lily, the heroine. First person was a poor choice for point of view for a work this long, especially given how many rich opportunities this decision closed off.

But in the end, I'm left wondering whether she read the same book I did, or whether her comment was intended for another book entirely. I'll try something else by Bausch one of these days, but not right away. Mar 03, Ayelet Waldman added it.

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I hereby declare a moratorium on men of a certain age writing from the point of view of young women. I will not allow it anymore, because those of us who are women even if the fact that we are approaching our fortieth birthday with terrifying inexorability precludes us from calling ourselves young find too many embarrassing mistakes, the kind of things that make us fling a novel across the room in frustration. Plus--enough with the shifting time periods. Unless they are really and truly relate I hereby declare a moratorium on men of a certain age writing from the point of view of young women.

Unless they are really and truly related, all they do is distract from one another. Will someone please remind me of this if I ever convince anyone to buy The Bloom Girls? Dec 07, Suzanne Cooper rated it really liked it Shelves: star-fiction , historical-fiction. I found this book to be a very enjoyable adventure.

A woman, alone, in the mid to late 's England did not have a lively assortment of choices. But Mary Kingsley set that norm on it's ear! Daring to enter deepest Africa, repeatedly, visiting people who had never seen Europeans is brave beyond belief! Oct 18, Elizabeth rated it did not like it Shelves: h. So disappointing. Mary Kingsley's account, Travels in West Africa, is a gem of humor, kindness, and fortitude. Sadly, Hello to the Cannibals has none of these qualities, especially the humor. Instead, the author focuses on the melancholy inner life of its characters, while never quite making them real.

Mary Kingsley leaps off the page in her own writing, but in this book, she's flat and dull, and her modern counterpart is yet another whiny girl. I wanted to love this book, but I couldn't even li So disappointing.

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I wanted to love this book, but I couldn't even like it. Long, laborious, I did not enjoy it. Could not connect with the characters. Could it be because it is about two women but written by a man? I have not felt in my life a strong feminist strain, but I do not feel the author caught the inner workings of these two women.

Apr 12, Shannon Saffell rated it liked it.


It was well written, but I wish the transitions between Lily and Mary were more defined. I also wanted to know more about Lily as her story progressed, but it seemed like telling Mary's story was more important. I enjoyed it, but I won't reread it; it's how I decide whether to pass along or keep. Interesting read combining interweaved stories one based on historical figure and a young woman seeking to find her way in the world a hundred years apart. Mar 20, Sarah rated it it was ok. Hello to the Cannibals. Richard Bausch.

Harper Collins. Hello to the Cannibals by Richard Bausch is such an expansive book and took me awhile to read, and I definitely wouldn't do it again. The synopsis of Hello to the Cannibals is much more interesting than what it actually turned out to be. Hello to the Cannibals is about a young woman named Lily Austin who is mature, intelligent, and incredibly insightful for her age.

At her 14th birthday party, Lily receives a biography about Hello to the Cannibals.

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At her 14th birthday party, Lily receives a biography about Mary Kingsley, an adventurer in the 19th century who traveled the world over. For the next 10 years of Lily's life, she drowns herself in Mary Kingsley and uses the woman as comfort and inspiration to help herself through her own hard times. Descended from playwrights, Lily also writes a play with Mary Kingsley being the focal point.


The book spans back and forth between Lily's life and Mary's life until we are greeted with Kingsley's early death at the end. Although Hello to the Cannibals didn't lag enough to be totally boring, I was disappointed with the overall outcome. Lily is presented to us as being an intelligent, bright young woman; however the choices she makes in life are somewhat boring and unimpressive.

Mary's character is so witty and smart and we expect her to rub off more on Lily, but this isn't the case. Whereas Mary was modern and adventurous, Lily is old-fashioned and lazy with her dreams. I expected the book to be uplifting and happy,with Lily accomplishing great things, but it is Mary we end up being impressed with; not Lily.

For pages, Hello to the Cannibals just isn't exhilarating enough to waste time on. I don't recommend it at all! May 01, Alyssa Greatbanks rated it did not like it. The story was pretty slow at first then for the rest of the book , but shortly in to it the main character, Lily, was molested by a friend's grandparent. After that, seeing the horror that she was feeling, I figured it would be a book where she had to overcome the memories of it and find herself again. Lily was a rather infuriating character, mainly because she did almost nothing about any current situation.

She just went along with whatever was going on.

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Not only that, but the play she was The story was pretty slow at first then for the rest of the book , but shortly in to it the main character, Lily, was molested by a friend's grandparent. Not only that, but the play she was writing about Mary, which I then assumed would be the main plot of this story, seemed to just be at the back of her mind. Rarely did she attempt to write it, most of the book dealing with Mary was letters and journal entries that Mary herself wrote. Honestly I would have rather read a book only on Mary, at least she was interesting and a strong character.

Setting aside the issues with Lily, the author described everything in such massive amounts of detail that it made the book MUCH longer than it really should have been. I barely felt like reading it, and when I did I only made it through pages at a time before I had to stop. To add to what I said before, there really isn't a whole lot in the way of a plot. We are just following Lily through her normal life. There could have been more done with that. At the end we are just left with a rather disappointing cliffhanger. Lily does finish the play, but other than that there is really nothing of interest added and it feels like it just cuts off.

I would have liked to have liked this book. The summary made it sound really interesting, but overall the book itself did not live up to my expectations. Aug 15, Lhaver rated it it was ok. I really wanted to like this book. But I don't think that I really finished it.

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  • The story blends the stories of a 19 year old depressed college theatre student with a Victorian explorer. One of the only women to explore any part of Africa on her own. The juxtaposition is forced, and the the writing is earnest. One of the hardest things for me to believe is that the story of the girl who has a traumatic nea I really wanted to like this book. One of the hardest things for me to believe is that the story of the girl who has a traumatic near rape experience at 13, whose parents divorce, but still encourage her, who is spoiled and feels smothered all at he same time, and gets pregnant, and married, and drops out of college to move to Louisiana relates at all to the story of the explorer.

    The explorer lived in near seclusion to care for her dying mother until she was 31, and then decided to leave it all and explore, on her own, remote parts of western Africa. It just never believed that the girl who just let life happen to her and whined about it was really learning anything from her counterpart, or that her counterpart would have had any patience for her.