Tag Archives: travel

One Night on the Island by Josie Silver

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One Night on the Island by Josie Silver

Silver, Josie. One Night on the Island. Ballantine, 2022. ISBN 978-1984820631 368 pp. $17

*****

No one does longing like Josie Silver. Missing a deceased finance? Check. In love with someone you saw in passing who your BFF later dates (and marries?) Check. Silver is all about the slow build, the angst, and the thank god–a satisfying resolution. One Night on the Island is another novel that you’ll read with a lump in your throat, wondering will they or won’t they.

Londoner and dating columnist Cleo Wilder has been searching for her flamingo (they mate for life) for a long time, and writing about the journey instead of writing a novel. Inspired by Emma Watson’s committee to herself, decides to mark her thirtieth birthday with a matrimonial style ceremony to commit to herself; her buddy/boss is on board, provided she documents it, and sends off to a remote Irish island. When it turns out the only rental is double-booked to Boston photographer Mack Sullivan who is struggling through a now-over-a-year-long separation (uninitiated by him) from his wife, sparks–of anger!–fly: both and are convinced they have claim to Otter Lodge and since the boat only comes once a week (except for medical emergencies), they are stuck with one another and need to form a truce, fast.

Part of getting to know and trust one another is a conversation introduced by Cleo: they can each share three truths. Never has the “just one bed” trope been used so effectively. Cleo takes the lumpy couch, and they connect across the single room with warmth, humor, and honesty. Mack finds a million images to capture as he explores his and his family’s roots to the island, while Cleo finds warm and welcoming friendships. The whole island is speculating about the true nature of their relationship (Star Wars references abound).

The island, it’s beauty, and it’s inhabitants slowly grow on both Cleo and Mack. They become friends, confidantes, are (of course) attracted, and just as Cleo is ready to do her ceremony, decides that a micro-affair with Mack after which they will release one another, will be healing–and without heartbreak–for both of them. They say goodbye, but are unable to forget one another…

I received an advance reader’s review copy of #OneNightOnTheIsland through #NetGalley

Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure by Patricia Ellis Herr

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Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure by Patricia Ellis Herr

Herr, Patricia Ellis. Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure. Crown, 2012. ISBN 978-0307952073 256 pp. $

*****

When Herr’s 5-year-old daughter Alex fell in love with hiking, mother and daughter set a goal to hike all of New Hampshire’s 4,000 ft peaks. Herr thought it would take years, but it took considerably less, due to Alex’s boundless energy, enthusiasm and upbeat attitude.

Along the way, there are many conflicts, ranging from unpredictable weather to attitudes of hikers who don’t think kids belong on mountains to angry grouse on the trail. Mother and daughter persevere, and it’s an opportunity for a homeschooling mom to impart life lessons that instill a sense of pride in Alex.

This recounting of the adventure of conquering many mountains is highly engaging and inspiring. Herr is a wonderful storyteller, and chapters are well constructed, building upon one another. I couldn’t put it down, and figure if a 5-year old can climb mountains, I can walk an hour a day.

Naked in Dangerous Places: The Chronicles of a Hungry, Scared, Lost, Homesick, but Otherwise Perfectly Happy Traveler by Cash Peters

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Naked in Dangerous Places: The Chronicles of a Hungry, Scared, Lost, Homesick, but Otherwise Perfectly Happy Traveler by Cash Peters

Peters, Cash. Naked in Dangerous Places: The Chronicles of a Hungry, Scared, Lost, Homesick, but Otherwise Perfectly Happy Traveler. Broadway, 2009. ISBN 978-0307396358 368 pp. $

**

I got about a hundred pages into this real-life glimpse into a short-lived reality-TV travel series, then skimmed to the end; it was a lot of the same thing in different locations, with little insight or growth along the way: Non-nature boy is thrust into survivor like situations, with some degree of scripting. It was an interesting look at how reality TV shows are put together, at the very least.

The footnotes were the funniest and most interesting part of the book. At the end, Peters is asked to speak about his experience, and puts together a really good list of things he learned along the way; it’s too bad he didn’t go that route, for the narrative.

Braving Home: Dispatches from the Underwater Town, the Lava-Side Inn, and Other Extreme Locales by Jake Halpern

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Braving Home: Dispatches from the Underwater Town, the Lava-Side Inn, and Other Extreme Locales by Jake Halpern

Halpern, Jake. Braving Home: Dispatches from the Underwater Town, the Lava-Side Inn, and Other Extreme Locales. Mariner, 2004. ISBN 978-0618446629 256 pp. $

****

If home is where the heart is, then what ties to a person to a certain physical space, especially when that place has been destroyed by natural or man-made disaster? The author travels to some interesting places (a flood plain town swept away by water, a house on lava fields) to interview individuals making a stand to stay in a near-uninhabitable place they call home.

This is fascinating armchair travel that also raises issues of retribution and isolation as well as home.

Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A journey into Bhutan by Jamie Zeppa

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Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A journey into Bhutan by Jamie Zeppa

Zeppa, Jamie. Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A journey into Bhutan. Riverhead Books, 2000. ISBN 978-1573228152 320 pp. $16

****

I haven’t read a book that infiltrated my thoughts so much in a long time. Perhaps it is because this awesome memoir/journal reminded me so much of some of my overseas experiences. Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A journey into Bhutan by Jamie Zeppa is a wonderful glimpse into the author’s decision to leave Canada to teach in Bhutan in the late 1980s. She had never been out of the country before and never spent much time away from Robert, the man she plans to marry. Something inside of her is gnawing though, she knows she needs to have this experience to learn about herself and the world.

Despite protests from her grandfather and other family and friends, she heads to a remote village in Bhutan. She is honest about how awful things are at first with the rats, the homesickness, the fear of eating anything besides crackers with diseases like giardia attacking folks right and left. Not surprisingly, she learns to love the country and the people and her life there. Although she sometimes gets caught up in the beauty and simplicity of life there, she is realistic and tries not to romanticize her experiences. She knows there are problems there like everywhere else.

This book made me think about our materialistic lifestyle here in the Western World and reminded me of how I felt traveling in Vietnam. Here in the US I always feel like I need so many things. Life in Vietnam was so simple–we had so few things but managed to live full and exciting lives everyday. It’s easy to romanticize that lifestyle, but one of Jamie’s friend’s in Bhutan reminds her that many of the people in Bhutan would jump at the chance to have the kinds of things we have in the Western world if they could.

She also acknowledges the battles between the different ethnicities in Bhutan that have emigrated from the surrounding countries. Bhutan was working hard to maintain its cultural identity and when Jamie was there the government made strict laws governing the use of national dress and imposing national dress on groups who were not native to Bhutan. It would be like our government declaring that all people in the US have to wear the traditional dress of the early Pilgrims.

This book made me think about a lot of things, and I could go on and on here, but I’d rather have a dialogue than a monologue. So if this sounds interesting to you, read the book and then we can chat! 🙂