Authors and Book Reviews  

January 21 - 27, 2005


 Coastweek   Kenya

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Coastweek - - Grand entrance to Nairobi's 'Norfolk Hotel'.


an easy and fascinating read

Coastweek - - Only narrowly reaching Kenya's bookshops in time for the hotel's 100-year celebrations, author Jan Hemsing's book Nairobi's Norfolk Hotel, the First Hundred Years is not just the story of a hotel whose name is known worldwide, but is an easy and fascinating read about Nairobi and those who contributed towards making it a capital city, writes NETA PEAL.

What was hardly even a town on Christmas Day 1904 had to grow up all around its only stone-built hotel.

The surroundings then were still so wild that lions were sometimes seen approaching the front door and hippos sported in the river behind.

This is not just the history of a very special hotel and those attracted to it ... who then dubbed it affectionately the 'House of Lords'.

This was because of the titled clientele from abroad who regularly frequented it ... but is also the story of Kenya emerging as a country from what was then known as BEA, British East Africa, a part of the British East Africa Protectorate.

The inspiration of Major C. G. R. Ringer and his partner Mr R. Aymer Winearls and opened on Christmas Day 1904, four further owners followed then in the ensuing years, each extending and improving it, to become the cherished 'Home from Home' for its guests from far and wide.

Big game hunters and their clients, princes, earls, dukes, lords and their ladies, a maharajah and the aristocracy of many countries can all be found in these pages as the Norfolk's patrons, not forgetting the explorers, artists, authors, sportsmen, racing drivers, presidents, politicians and professional photographers.

Also the darlings worldwide of stage and screen and numerous others, making the reading an adventure in itself, a hundred-year African safari in its own right.

This is Nairobi's and Kenya's history made easy reading. 

From when the railway from Mombasa to Port Florence (or Kisumu as it is now) stopped long enough in front of the hotel for passengers to embark or alight to the more speedy arrival of guests who in their time would include Sarah Duchess of York and, more recently still, the United Nations Secretary Kofi Annan and his wife Nana.

Published in Kenya by Oakland Books and printed by Modern Lithographic, the book's 244 pages are generously illustrated with 124 pages in one colour, 24 in two colours and in full colour 96.

The soft back edition sells at K Shs. 980 and the hardback edition with full-colour dust jacket at K Shs. 1,475.







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