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Diane S. (Batavia, IL)
To the Moon and Timbuktu
I really enjoyed reading about her travels, all the different cultures and her journey both internal and outward. I do think her writing strength is when she is describes the people she meets of the dialogue between herself and others. I did find the journey itself a bit self indulgent, not to the extent of Eat, Pray, Love which I am sure this book is being compared to. I like that she went to places one generally does not get to learn about and I have to give her credit because I do not believe anyone could get me to eat a sheep's eye sandwich.
Valerie C. (Chico, CA)
Not very engrossing
I read three quarters of this book before i gave up. I love travel, I love travel non-fiction, but this book is missing something others in this genre have - perhaps it is humor, perhaps it is deeper insight into the cultures. For me at least this book was a disappointment.
Becky M. (Crumpler, NC)
A Trek Through the Heart
The subtitle of To the Moon and Timbuktu is "a trek through the heart of Africa", but it seems to me that it could just as easily read "a trek through the heart." In this memoir, Nina Sovich carries us with her to the deserts of Africa as she seeks to find what is missing in her life. Not content to be a wife and professional journalist in Paris, she journeys to the regions of Africa least visited by whites, and certainly by white women traveling alone. The reader experiences not one, but three separate trips with her as she seeks to define her life as someone other than an American living in Paris. We taste the dust, feel the heat, long for water, swat the insects ... all as we sojourn in the Sahara with her. As Sovich makes peace with herself, so then do we make peace with her restless heart. A good read when all is said and done.
Rose N. (Saginaw, MI)
To the Moon and Timbuktu
Nina Sovich inherited a thirst for wanderlust from her mother. This being so, at age thirty-four, with her husband's blessing, she left her job and her comfortable Paris home to satisfy this wanderlust. Stripped of all comforts, frequently traveling barefoot in native dress, her three treks through the northwestern countries of Africa gave her a profound sense of peace and liberation. Her detailed descriptions of the desert landscape, the difficult bus and truck trips, and the loving native women give the reader a feeling a shared experience.
Mark O. (Wenatchee, WA)
To The Moon & Timbuktu
This book is definitely recommended for readers, young and old, who love to travel and who would like to learn about places they may never have the chance or inclination to visit.
Alberto Manguel, in "A Reading Diary" discusses Kenneth Grahame's "Wind in the Willows": "Grahame wisely divides adventurers into adventurers who like their adventures orderly and those who prefer the thrill of chaos." Nina Sovich is clearly of the latter: "Out there [Africa] lay deserts and mountains, a harsh and empty terrain that would demand firm decisions, bold character strokes ... I could test myself out there. I could be changed."
Beverly D. (Palm Harbor, FL)
NOT a travelogue....
This is a potentially life-nudging read. We learn about countries that many of us (i.e., me) couldn't find on a map (there is a good map at the front; keep your thumb there). We learn, vicariously, that most of what we encounter in unscripted travel contains opposites, has nuances. Travel in remote places comes with privations but normal is an adjustable concept. Islam holds both zealous anger and readings of the Qur'an that sing, gently. A "Stranger in a Strange Land" will be an exploitable resource for some but a protected guest for many others.
After reading "To the Moon and Timbuktu," even those of us partial to the familiar and the near-at-hand might decide to be a traveler in our own country, maybe even uncomfortably free-range, so that we might return home made bigger.
I really enjoyed this memoir...a story of discovery of both self and unknown places. The writing simply flows and carries you along with Nina in the dust and the heat of the western Sahara. Her revelation about the company of women absolutely struck my soul. The need to go to a very foreign place to realize this makes one consider the how disconnected we have all become in the "modern" world. Highly recommended for book clubs, especially those interested in "women's studies".
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.