Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

Hummingbirds in my Hair

hummingbirdsThe title of Hummingbirds in my Hair ought to be, Dogs in my Caribbean Life, but is, instead, is Adventures of a Diplomatic Wife in the Caribbean, and the cover is a patchwork of very colourful images suggesting sun, sand, birds, flowers, dogs, carnival costumes and a useful map for foreigners who don’t know where Surname is. Since the images are out of scale with each other, the cover is a mess, but a cheerful one, like an amateur tourist brochure. I’ll assume that the cheerfulness, and the dogs, come from the author. (The mess is the publisher’s responsibility.) I enjoyed reading the book in November because Pamela’s (may I call you Pamela?) zippy prose style is terrific for evoking the brisk pace of life for an ambassador’s life in steamy hot countries in the 1980s and 1990s.

PamelaShe assumes that her reader will have read the first volume of memoirs, Culture Shock and Canapés, about her life in diplomatic Africa, and surges her readers into the diplomatic jargon and working practices of the Caribbean coast. Because her husband is now retired, she is free to be critical of how things are done, and her brisk and very practical voice gives a lot of time to fixing the problems of Suriname. However, she is most vocal about her family of dogs, which are her children, so this is a book for dog-lovers, and as I am not really in this category I felt a bit of an onlooker for much of her dog-related stories and frustrations. But the book is fun: I was very happy reading a chapter or so each night. I enjoyed her company, I admired her energy and indomitableness, and I enjoyed reading about Caribbean life from the diplomatic perspective. An excellent Christmas present for a doggy person who craves the sun.

Pamela O’Cuneen, Hummingbirds in my Hair (Quartet, 2014) , ISBN 978-0-7043-7363-1

Kate quite likes dogs, but has never wanted to own one.

About Kate

Blogger, lecturer, podcaster, writer, critic, reviewer, researcher, and publisher (, in and on British literary history. Preferred occupation while listening to podcasts: cooking or knitting. Preferred soundtrack while reading: the sound of silence.

One comment on “Hummingbirds in my Hair

  1. Jackie
    December 9, 2014

    Oh, I like the sound of this one! It combines 2 topics I like to read about, animals and travel and I’ve always wanted to learn more about what diplomats do. I agree with you about the cover, maybe it’s intended to represent a scrapbook?

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This entry was posted on December 9, 2014 by in autobiography, Entries by Kate, Non-fiction: Humour, Non-fiction: memoir, Non-fiction: travel and tagged , , , .



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  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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