Mozambique Mysteries, By Lisa St Aubin de Teran

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Having lived a peripatetic lifestyle that largely revolved around writing and repeatedly marrying, Lisa St Aubin de Teran woke up in Italy with an attack of conscience, asking herself, at the age of 50: "If not now, when? What exactly was I waiting for?" It might sound like the voicing of a predictable midlife crisis, but Teran actually did something about it. In 2002, she moved to Mozambique with her partner and daughter, where she made a hands-on job of establishing a community college in the north-eastern Mossuril district.

Most of this memoir is an account of her difficulties and joys in succeeding to set up such a place, and how she came to learn the ways and culture of the people. Teran's experience as a novelist has helped her to balance the personal with the factual in her account. And for those who long for a serious life change that is more substantial than the one found in Elizabeth Gilbert's slightly flashier Eat Pray Love, Teran shows how to turn inner torments into public good.