“Miss Fortune” by Albina Hume
Reviewed By: Avraham Azrieli
Avraham Azrieli writes books and screenplays. His website is: www.AzrieliBooks.com
“Miss Fortune” is a fascinating memoir by Ukrainian-South African author Albina Hume, spanning a life rich with fortune, adventure and a few dramatic setbacks, taking readers across borders, continents, and cultures.
The author’s life story is especially intriguing because of the stark contrast, which the author presents with ample details and perceptiveness, between her childhood and youth in the post-Soviet Ukraine and her adult life as a South African rancher and nature activist. (The author is a leading international advocate for Rhino preservation. See her Facebook page at Future4Rhino).
The book starts with a touching and truly insightful overlay of the author’s childhood and family life in the Ukraine, but also the almost surreal bureaucratic universe, typical of communist heritage. Take this paragraph, for example:
“As a registered villager, I was obliged to travel to the regional city of Artemovsk for any document or government assistance. That same day, 22 January, I gathered all my documents and went to register my status as unemployed. Later in the afternoon, I received my first dole of one million, two hundred karbovanets. This was five US dollars; two months’ supply of bread. “
And, in contrast, her life in South Africa:
“As we approached a large open area where rhinos roamed among roan antelope, kudu, tsessebe and impala, I fell silent. Even though I’d seen this place hundreds of times before, I still found it fascinating every time I experienced its beauty. It was like being inside a National Geographic film. A family of wart-hogs, a species related to the wild pig, hurtled into the bush, their tails up like little antennae, while a group of zebras grazed nearby. Ostriches chased each other not far from a small herd of buffalo, who seemed completely oblivious to what was going on. Close by, under the green umbrella of an acacia tree, stood four white female rhinos and their babies.”
In summary, Author Albina Hume, who left the Ukraine for a life with a much older and truly remarkable South African rhino breeder, succeeds in sharing her unique story with mesmerizing clarity, emotional depth, sharp humor, and a keen eye for detail that makes the book particularly memorable. Her love of wildlife—and life itself—is highly contagious. Strongly recommended!