Sunday, September 27, 2009

First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria by Eve Brown-Waite

Once upon a time, and you may remember this if you've been with me a while, before BBAW, I used to, you know, actually review a book from time to time. First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria has been patiently waiting on my desk for an opportune time that just hasn't come. Its very presence there has been causing me a good deal of guilt and strife. So much guilt, in fact, that I found myself thinking the other morning in the shower about reviewing it, and then I began writing, in the confines of my barely awake mind, what I considered to be an excellent review. Now, I consider myself to be a great multi-tasker, but writing reviews in the shower simply poses some logistical difficulties that are rather impossible to overcome, which is why I'm sitting here now with barely an inkling left in my memory of what it was that I was going to say in my fantastic "barely awake mind review" which means we'll have to settle for this mediocre barely awake blog review.

Eve's joining of the Peace Corps was a long time coming. When the "I'll-be-joining-the-Peace-Corps" line begins to get a little thin, she knows it's time to finally go through with it. She's got one problem, though. She seems to be falling for her clean cut, "epitome of a good guy" Peace Corps recruiter, John. As her departure date nears, she wants less and less to follow through with her pledge to spend two years in a developing nation and more and more to stay with her one true love. Unfortunately, scrapping the Peace Corps probably means scrapping her relationship with John anyway, so it's off to Ecuador for Eve. Once there, she finds the experience to be even less rewarding than she expected as she has more than a little difficulty convincing people to actually put her to work. Finally, she finds a niche taking homeless boys back to their families, but soon after an unexpected tragedy reveals a secret from her past that has her returning to states and her future husband.

The meat of this book, though, is when John takes a job with CARE in Uganda. Here Eve's committment is put to the test as she is forced to take a chance on another developing country and adjust to life in a rural Ugandan outpost noted for its excess of guerilla activity. Here Eve will learn that compared to everyone else she is rich, gigantic bugs are a daily reality, and malaria is much easier to come by than a telephone.

Brown-Waite has an easy, conversational writing style that invites us into a very troubled African nation without simply focusing on the trouble. Brown-Waite truly brings the people of Uganda to life for her readers. Her stories are often laugh out loud funny and point out the quirks and celebrate the culture of a nation, that though struggling, seems to be filled with an unexpectedly optimistic, joyful people. Unlike many memoirs of Africa, Brown-Waite's manages to reveal the many issues facing Uganda without marinating us in a dark, dismal reflection on the "unsolveable" problems of a nation afflicted with extreme poverty and disease.

First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria is a captivating and heartfelt love story of how Eve Brown-Waite fell first for a man and then for a nation. Brown-Waite's journey from inept bush housewife looking for a purpose to a thriving expat with a passion for this rather backward Ugandan community was a pleasure to read. Here's hoping that she is already busy writing about her adventures in Uzbekistan and beyond, as I would gladly go along for the ride!


  1. You need a tape recorder. The sound quality would be terrible with you in the shower, but you might at least be able to hold onto some of your thoughts that way. I've been thinking that might be a good way for me to go on my drives to work in the morning as I mull over the reviews I need to write. I so rarely remember the brilliant ideas I had when I finally do have a chance to sit down and write.

    As I began to read your description of this book I wasn't sure it was something I would like, but the more I read, the more interested I became. I definitely hope to check this one out further. Thanks for your great review, Megan!

  2. I know what you mean - I write the greatest posts when I'm driving my car and can never remember them when I get to my computer. I can't wait to read the book.

  3. You're hilarious. I've read a couple reviews of this book - it sounds excellent. Darn it! That's another book added to my always-growing-never-shrinking TBR mountain.

  4. Wow! You nailed the book with your review. I did fall in love with the man and then the nation. And even more so, with his way of life. Thanks for the great review! I am at work on the next book and it promises to be a wild and hilarious ride!

  5. I adored "First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria" AND Eve, so I'm so pleased to see when other people liked it (them) too!

  6. I adored "First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria" AND Eve, so I'm so pleased to see when other people liked it (them) too!