Sense of Place

‘I had a farm in Africa.’ So begins the first sentence of the memoir ‘Out of Africa,’ that compelling account of Isak Dinsen’s life in Kenya. Soon I will be saying, ‘I had a house in France,’ and that made me think about whether the past tense is correct. I think I will always have a small cottage in the edge of a village near to the town of Uzes in Southern France, because it stays in my memory. Isak Dinsen used her memories to give life to her farm as she wrote about the place and the people. In the book she charts her love affair, not just with Finch-Hatton, but with the experience of living in Africa.

Our house was only a holiday home and there is no novel or memoir to be written about it, but I began to think about the places I have lived over the years and I am suprised about how well I can recall the rooms, the furniture, the sounds and the smells of those houses. In my mind I can walk round them and think of the events that happened in each one. Is that why a sense of place is so important in writing, putting characters into a context of their homes? I wonder.

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About scribblingadvocate

Born in Lancashire, Law degree from Sheffield University and MA in Creative Writing from Exeter. A barrister for twenty five years, who appeared in the Crown Courts in and around London. When I retired we moved to live in Devon, first on Dartmoor, more recently overlooking the Exe Estuary. After twenty years I still feel an exile from London. Married, no children but own an affable Springer Spaniel. I love reading, walking and travel. I completed an MA in Creative Writing at Exeter University and have written three books, Crucial Evidence, Reluctant Consent and Legal Privilege, all set in London. You can email me

7 responses to “Sense of Place”

  1. kellie larsen murphy says :

    I just nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award!

  2. veryproundtobe says :

    and how does living in Kenya qualifies a memoir to document the whole continent? i will think the tittle should be may be ” i had a farm in kenya.”….. but Africa?? Africa is a continent not one big place!!

    • scribblingadvocate says :

      It’s not my title. I can’t speak for Isak Dinsen. It’s a beautifully written book full of love for her adopted country and her grief at leaving it. If you don’t know it I would suggest you read it and make your own judgement as to the title.

  3. scribblingadvocate says :

    Thank you. I’ll respond shortly

  4. Maggie Fleming says :

    This is lovely. I think you capture exactly why place is so important when we write.

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  1. Market Day in Uzes, France | Two Different Girls - November 28, 2012

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