Ingalls' spare and elegant novel owes practically nothing to its predecessors ... The tone of the novel deepens into a psychological study of these two people and the subtle and complex ways in which the exotic environment works upon each of them ... Even as the mood darkens, Ingalls' style maintains the wry grace of a sophisticated romance, a control guaranteeing that the denouement will not only be inevitable but astonishing.
Rachel Ingalls is an elegant master ... Binstead’s Safari is not about lions or their position as kings. Rather, it employs its fantastic lion imagery to reveal the wild darkness of humans, to uncover the horrifying ways in which humans turn on each other ... While Stan’s observations are handed to the reader almost too easily, how these thoughts work alongside the plot necessitates a reader’s serious attention, and that’s where Ingalls’s artistry lies ... Her characters’ interior thoughts are reinforced by memorable events ... Binstead’s Safari is a strange masterpiece in which the suspenseful and potentially horrifying are balanced by campy comedy ... Yet for all its puzzle-ness, the novella resists encapsulation, resists being named and pinned down. As a particularly intricate and rich cipher, the novella is better experienced than described.
...Binstead’s Safari explores themes of loneliness, marriage, passion and impossible love. Impossible, but told in such a matter-of-fact way that the reader is entirely swept along ... Binstead’s Safari is a page-turner, a romance, a comedy, a tragedy, a domestic novel and a fish-out-of-water tale, with a bit of magical realism thrown in. It’s amazing and original, and it’s great to see it back in print.
Outstanding if underappreciated ... In clear, elegant prose, Ingalls vividly evokes both the city life of London and the wilderness of Africa, each beautiful in its way, as she explores myth and the human-animal link. With its memorable characters, who face life in their own ways, this is haunting fiction that will linger in memory.
... Rachel Ingalls... is funny in an exceptionally dry way, in a way that does not appeal to readers who like things spelled out ... part of the brilliance... lies in the way Ingalls captures the everyday bathos of a neglected, hard-done-by wife and then turns around to startle us with an almost festive regeneration through a relationship with an impossible creature ... It is pleasant for the reader to witness the blossoming of Millie... But nothing is so thoroughly rewarding and impressive as the way Ingalls conveys Stan’s view of the situation and, indeed, of his view of the Africans he is intent on observing. He gets everything wrong, and does so with the greatest confidence, always interpreting facts so they accord with his own opinions. The subtlety with which Ingalls captures self-delusion made me hug myself with joy ... I put Binstead’s Safari with Angus Wilson’s Anglo-Saxon Attitudes and Barbara Pym’s Excellent Women as one of the three greatest—and funniest—novels about the self-regarding world of anthropologists.
Like nearly all of Ingalls’s work, the book is heavily plotted but deceptively languorous, and its jumbling of the domestic and the bizarre places it just beyond the apprehensible ... Binstead’s Safari is not primarily an account of its heroine’s awakening. Instead it refracts otherness through a marriage, sending it spinning through two very different consciousnesses and out a shared exit wound ... Binstead’s Safari strikes a coolly resigned tone. Ingalls anchors her soaring premise with heavily controlled, modest prose, and a reticence to get too close to any character—a kind of insurance policy against sentimentality ... Ingalls isn’t shy with worst-case scenarios (death, ruination), and Binstead’s Safari doesn’t quite believe in peace. She litters the novel with reminders of the unnamed country’s recent, disappointing revolution.
Ingalls’s mastery of the weird and eerie uses the relationships between characters to build unease. A subtle violence bubbles behind all these scenes, as Ingalls weaves together each character’s outward presentation with what they refuse to recognize in themselves ... demonstrates Ingalls’s ability to show the tensions and contradictions shaping ordinary life, as Binstead’s Safari reveals the intense connections, sensations, and desires that stalk between us and the people with whom we share the world. As the their failing marriage follows them on their safari, Ingalls shows the disastrous and fantastical consequences of their interpersonal problems once they are removed from their familiar routine.
A deliciously gossipy take on colonial safari culture ... Another witty, elegant story from a writer whose atavistic vision of romantic love is resonant and deeply satisfying. Escaping the overblown egos and endless self-indulgence of the males of their own species, Ingalls' women find their true soul mates elsewhere.
The scene glows, like a painting in primary color. Deep in the forest a dark and subtle magic is taking place, and thereby hangs this impressive tale, taut with the thrill of the hunt and the spell of the unknown.