Friday, June 1, 2012

New Song in a Strange land by Esther Warner

New Song in a Strange land is a memoir by Esther (a woman from Iowa) about her time in Liberia in the early 1940's, when she was about 30 years old, and while her husband worked for the rubber company. Esther was a first class writer, an absolutely fascinating woman, intrepid to the extreme, intelligent, avant-garde, art collector, appreciative and respectful of the culture she was getting to know; she has a great talent for showing the highly developed philosophical side of that people without ever any condescension, with lots of self-deprecation and humour. She is wonderful at using the language as spoken by the natives. I found a copy at a rummage sale and could not put it down. This book is beautifully illustrated by Jo Dendel, a man she met while in Africa. (She ended up leaving her husband and marrying this man); the book should be re-edited; it would be a New York Times best seller; it is as interesting today as it must have been after its first publication in the mid-40's. I could not put it down. And I was sad when it was finished. It is just one of those lucky finds one falls upon by chance at a rummage sale. Lucky me! The reason there are not too many copies of this book in circulation is most likely that once a person gets a copy, that person does not want to part with it; it is too much of a treasure... I am keeping it for my granddaughters so they will find a new hero, a new role model, in Esther. You might be able to get a copy at or at


  1. I was surprised to see a review of Esther's book on Amazon! I believe it was a best seller in it's time. Esther was a wonderful friend and teacher. She and her husband Jo were an incredible influence to many people. FYI- Jo passed on a few weeks ago. He was 93.

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