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The Luangwa is far from being a happy valley

Simon Barnes’s Sacred Combe in Zambia is not the idyll he imagines— and his bumptious optimism is exasperating

30 January 2016

9:00 AM

30 January 2016

9:00 AM

The Sacred Combe Simon Barnes

Bloomsbury, pp.238, £14.99, ISBN: 9781472914026

Simon Barnes opens with a presumably true idea, that we are all in search of our own versions of paradise — a special place presented here as the sacred ‘combe’ of the title, being a word with Celtic origins that describes a steep hollow or hidden valley. These paradises might be real or imagined, exist only in memory, or live in fiction like Narnia or Robin Hood’s forest; they can be unattainable, beyond reach, or ruined, like Eden.

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