Edinburgh: A Traveller's Reader
By David Daiches
Edinburgh is a city whose history is written on its face. The Old Town on its crowded rock, sloping down from the Castle to Holyroodhouse, has not significantly changed its atmosphere since the turbulent fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, when riots, processions, or public executions jammed the High Street. And the very different era that followed the bloody religious wars of the seventeenth century is epitomized by the elegant streets and squares of the New Town - the eighteenth-century Enlightenment whose writers, philosophers and lawyers made Edinburgh famous. This anthology of extracts from letters, memoirs, diaries, novels and biographies of interesting visitors and inhabitants, including the writings of Scott, Boswell, Cockburn, John Knox and many others, recreates for today's visitors the drama, the history, and the life of the city in buildings and places that can still be visited. The daring Scottish recapture of the Castle from the English in 1313; the confrontation between Calvinist John Knox and Catholic Mary Queen of Scots in Holyroodhouse; an eye-witness account of the execution of Montrose at the Mercat Cross in 1650; reeking slop-pails in the wynds and polite manners in the ballrooms. . .
By Andrew Stevenson
Twelve years after his classic travel narrative Annapurna Circuit Andrew Stevenson returns alone once again to the Himalayas on a deeply personal quest, a journey both corporal and spiritual. Narrowly escaping paralysis after shattering his spine in a motorbike accident weeks after his younger brother's untimely death, Stevenson's hike up to Everest Base Camp is as much introspective passage of healing as intriguing depiction of his fellow backpackers and the Sherpa people. Lying in a hospital bed in a morphine-induced state of hallucination after his accident, Stevenson promises himself to go back to the Himalayas, to heal. Five months after his mishap, and against all the odds, this recuperative solitary climb into high mountain valleys provides a spectacular backdrop to an emotional acknowledgment and acceptance of a lost sibling. Interlaced with the hardships of pushing to the edge of personal physical endurance and beyond, The Envelope: Walking up to Everest Base Camp is a richly rewarding read on every level.
By Charley Boorman
Charley Boorman is back on his bike exploring the world's second largest country - home to some of the most stunning and challenging terrain known to man. Canada is a country of extremes, and Charley knows all about pushing the limits. He goes dirt biking in New Brunswick, dives through old shipwrecks in Tobermory and rides along Butch Cassidy's old Outlaw Trail. He also meets a fascinating mix of people on his journey. As he heads across Canada, he plays ice hockey with a legend of the game; spends a day as a Mountie cadet and nearly meets a ghost in Winnipeg . . . Written with Charley's trademark enthusiasm and humour, Extreme Frontiers is fast-paced, hugely entertaining and packed with adventure (and rather a lot of mosquitoes).
By Lea Aschkenas
Es Cuba is a poignant and passionate travel memoir about falling in love with a country and one of its compatriots. Aschkenas never strays from her acute awareness that there is no way to separate her foreignness (intensified by U.S.-Cuba relations) from the complex mix of emotions, devotion and rejection, enrapture and apprehension that she develops toward the country. Her tale is filled with beautifully woven descriptions of Cuba and the customs and habits of its people. Aschkenas is a discerning observer, taking in the innocence, isolation, contradictions, and resolute optimism of a people who have persevered against the collective disappointment bestowed upon them by a government that has been unable to deliver the utopia promised by socialism. Aschkenas, already a seasoned traveller by the time she arrives in Cuba for the first time in 1999, is overcome by her own passion for Cuba and her unraveling affection for Alfredo as she comes to appreciate his naïveté, sincerity, and ability to live for the moment, something she comes to realize is the effect of growing up in a culture where nothing is ever certain.
By Christina Henry de Tessan
For generations, literary figures from Ernest Hemingway to Frances Mayes have fueled our fantasies about the romance of expatriate life. But it's one thing to dream about living abroad and quite another to actually do it. In Expat a diverse group of women explores in vivid detail how the reality of life abroad matches up to the fantasy. Tonya Ward Singer craves a roasted chicken in China and must buy it alive and kicking. Karen Rosenberg reevaluates both her family's Judaism and her own when invited to a Passover seder in a remote Japanese village. Mandy Dowd tries to teach the French about Thanksgiving. Emily Miller admits that in Italy she craves the Hollywood entertainment she generally deplores when on U.S. soil. Tall and fair, Meg Wirth tries hard to blend in, in Borneo,to no avail. Expat taps into the bewilderment, joys, and surprises of life overseas, where challenges often take unexpected forms and overcoming obstacles (finding Drano in Ukraine, shrimp paste in Prague) feels all the more triumphant. Featuring an astonishing range of perspectives, destinations, and circumstances, Expat offers a beautiful portrait of life abroad.
Elements Of Italy
By Lisa St. Aubin De Teran
The turnstile into Italy has clicked continually for centuries - Lord Byron loved here and continues to draw romantics in his wake, Stendhal concluded: 'The charm of Italy is akin to that of being in love'. Yet Italians love their country more than any foreigner ever can, it is a place where labourers do hum Verdi, quote Dante and find their lunch delicious. Italians love of art, architecture and life itself is what drew Lisa St Aubin to this beautiful country. She extracts the work of, among others, Dante, Edith Wharton, Leonardo da Vinci, Rosetta Loy, Mary McCarthy, Goethe, Primo Levi, Turner, Shelley, Claire Sterling, Truman Capote, Cecil Beaton, Elsa Morante, Molly Lefebure and Keats. 'Italy is mostly an emotion' - Henry James'All the dreams of my youth I now behold realised before me' - Goethe'They make love a great deal - and assassinate a little' - Byron