Shara P. (Burlington, NC)
A different point of view
In general I think this a good read. Nina Sovich certainly has a different take on the world than most young women from middle class Conn. families. I found her perspective unusual: from life in Paris with a man who loves her being dreary and deadening to the spiritual benefits of poverty deprivation and filth. A sand up view of a part of Africa not often found in recent works. Change the cover, it's too generically "African" and the biographical sketch gives the plot away.
Susan B. (Sarasota, FL)
An adventure in remote West Africa
Nina Sovich has written a book about her wanderlust that anyone who loves to travel will recognize. While she, at 34, takes it to the height of adventure, traveling to West Africa, she writes in a style that keeps the reader engaged and on the edge of their seat to discover what happens next to this bold, gutsy woman.
Having recently been to West Africa, I can say her description of how life is there is spot on. The desolate sand swept desert and towns, the heat, lack of any creature comforts which do not in any way deter her from her quest to get to Timbuktu make this book a great adventure for the reader.
She is inspired by previous female explorers such as Mary Kingsley and Karen Blixen and uses them both to inspire her onward with her journey. Quoting from their journals and books she often looks to them for guidance when travel becomes hard.
Although she has a loving husband and a life in Paris, she is determined to get to Timbuktu, not making it the first time but going back again and making it there the second time. She writes of her experience in a way that makes it more than a travelog, more like an adventure novel.
I enjoyed this book and could not put it down. It is a great selection for a book club as there are many aspects of her personality and decisions to inspire conversation.
Pam L. (Melbourne Beach, FL)
To the Moon and Timbuktu was a perfect read for me. I loved Nina Sovich's brutal honesty and her passion to follow in the footsteps of Mary Kingsley. Her travels through the heart of Africa were spell binding and Sovich's writing was absolutely beautiful at times. Her experiences were at once romantic, and then so uncomfortable you couldn't help but ask why she did it. Sovich's combination of history, culture, politics and personal reflections carried this memoir off beautifully. The stories of the people of Western Africa made for great reading, especially those of the women.
Angela S. (Hartland, MI)
I thoroughly enjoyed reading To the Moon and Timbuktu by Nina Sovich. Reading about foreign cultures is always a great learning experience and this book did not disappoint. I was fascinated by the lives of the Africans that the author met and also by the modes of transportation used to navigate through towns and cities throughout the continent. It made the story much richer because she refused to take the easy way. She meets dangerous people, happy people, angry people, and she finds compassion and kinship with many of the women (and men) she comes into contact with. The honesty in which the author tells her story is truly refreshing and I found myself relating to some of her inner conflicts. This book is about a quest to get to Timbuktu, but also the quest within the author to find herself and her happy place in the society she lived. A truly relatable book for anybody who wishes for more than what they see out their windows every day.
John W. (Saint Louis, MO)
Story of A Journey: People, Places & Self-Discovery
To the Moon and Timbuktu is the story of a journey -- three in reality: people, places and self-discovery. I have traveled to various parts of eastern and western Africa and her descriptions of people and places made me feel as though I was back. She brought her characters to life and you feel as though you know them personally – the trademark of a great story-teller!
As I indicate it's also a book about self-discovery. Throughout the book, you learn more about two other famous women that traveled Africa, Mary Kingsley – an explorer in the 1800's and Isak Dineson – the author of "Out of Africa". The author feels connected to both women as well as the women she meets in African villages. Despite time and cultural differences she discovers women everywhere share common bonds.
Judy G. (Carmel, IN)
Wanderlust in all of us
I really enjoyed this book and recommend it. The description of Nina's personal journey was well crafted and described. While I had hoped for a story of the people and animals of Africa, instead I learned more about what it's like for people who continually yearn for excitement and adventure. The author described an often torturous journey, both physical and psychological.
We all have some degree of wanderlust but some of us experience the need to travel as a driving force in our lives that never goes away. I don't share that drive and feel the author did a great job of describing what that's like for others and how it can temper even the strongest romantic relationships. This book is a great example of how we can experience the lives of others through reading. I recommend it for book clubs as members could each speak to their own degree of wanderlust and how that need gets met.
Laurie F. (Brookline, MA)
The Story of Nina Sovich
This could have been a good book. If the author had focused more on the places she went and the people she met rather than herself. I have traveled Africa quite extensively and it is a beautiful continent with very interesting people. It was tiring to keep seeing the word "I". She seemed discontent and sometimes miserable - never truly amazed with the experience or the adventure.