Wanderlust by Elisabeth Eaves
|Wanderlust by Elisabeth Eaves|
|Reviewer: Zoe Morris|
|Summary: Love and loss all over the world in this stellar travelogue of a young woman traveling alone|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: June 2011|
|Publisher: Seal Press|
|External links: Author's website|
Egypt. Australia. Papua New Guinea. Spain. Pakistan. New Zealand. France. For some that list will be a random list of places, mixing those they know with those they’ve never considered. Others might tick off a few and have the remainder on a ‘to do’ list. It’s probably only a small subset who will have passed through all of them, and an ever tinier one who will have spent considerable time in each. Canadian native Elisabeth Eaves is one of the lucky few who has been there, done that, and this book is essentially her travel diaries of those years wandering the globe.
This could have been an awful book – self-indulgent drivel that you’d only get if you’d been there too. Happily it’s nothing of the sort. It’s an outstanding piece of travel writing – or perhaps better put, a collection of 30+ outstanding pieces of travel writing – of the kind often aspired to, but rarely seen. It is about the world, certainly, but it is also about the author as a person, her loves and losses, and her general joie de vivre. From being lost in the wilderness to stalked on the streets of Yemen this is anything but your typical travelogue of sights and sounds on the tourist trail, and even when she does go more mainstream, backpacking up the east coast of Oz, she does with flair and makes it sound far more interesting.
Eaves has a lust for travelling – for wandering, if you will – but she also has a lust for men and her bed/tent/couch hopping makes up a not insignificant number of the pages. She writes frankly in a way that may be too open for some but which is shocking more for its directness than the blueness of the language. She is equally blasé about her nocturnal activities, writing:
We took ecstasy and stayed up all night, lolling on the floor like a litter of puppies
What makes this book different from so many others out there is the narrator. She’s not a middle aged man (see our Travel page for confirmation that so many are) and she’s not trying to rediscover her youth – her first adventure is when she’s still in her teens and she comes of age out in the world. She travels often alone, and to unconventional places, both of which make her stand out and as other reviewers have said, she is someone I would love to be friends with.
The writing is fluid, the stories languid without being rambling, and the passion evident. If I had one minor criticism it would be regarding the literary quotes which I didn’t feel added to the story, and seemed somehow shoehorned in as if to illustrate how well read she (or the editor) was. But this is a minor niggle, and overall I was left hugely satisfied by the book. I identified with it immensely – not just our shared experiences (au pairing in Europe...heading to places on many people’s no-go lists), but from her general love of, and need to, travel the world. They say you can never go home again, and in some ways it seems that Eaves agrees, but if home is where the heart is, then with a love affair like this she’s truly at home anywhere in the world.
For the arm chair traveller as much as the intrepid adventurer, this is a book that gives you an insider’s view of the destinations that goes far beyond the surface most passing tourists would barely scratch. It’s reignited my desire to travel, and I’ve only been back on this side of the world a couple of months. A wonderful gift for fans of travel writing, this is highly recommended.
Thanks go to the publishers for supplying this book.
She stays put a little more than Eaves does, but A House in Fez: Building a Life in the Ancient Heart of Morocco by Suzanna Clarke is an interesting read about someone else who'd rather be anywhere but here.
You can read more book reviews or buy Wanderlust by Elisabeth Eaves at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Wanderlust by Elisabeth Eaves at Amazon.com.
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