In the 1950s, Hadley (A Journey with Elsa Cloud), then a disaffected 25-year-old New Yorker, set off to see the globe with her six-year-old son. This memorable book, out of print for more than a quarter century, records in clear, attentive, deliberately personal prose Hadley's impressions of--and misadventures in--Hong Kong, Manila, Bangkok and Singapore, for starters. The emotional core of the book emerges when Hadley signs on to the four-man schooner California, and so learns about seamanship and camaraderie. Hadley, her son, the men of the schooner and their big dog make their way across the waters to Malaysia, where Hadley witnesses Thaipusam, the Tamil festival of repentance and body-piercing. A voyage ensues to the South Pacific islands, where ""the first European lady to set foot on the shores of Nancowry"" observes beautiful polychromatic corals, bored Indian traders and the ""plump and pleasant-looking"" queen. In India, Hadley encounters Buddhist ascetics, ancient spires, the Taj Mahal and--disarmingly--the young Indira Gandhi: ""Her toenails were unblemished and smooth, glossily pink like the inside lip of a seashell."" Pakistan, Dubai, Iraq, Lebanon and Malta complete the remarkable odyssey. Offering both an impressive panorama of Asia in the '50s, and a briskly engaging account of self-discovery, Hadley's memoir strikingly anticipates the current genre of women's adventure-travel books, and stands with the best of them. B&w photos. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999 Release date: 03/01/1999 Genre: Nonfiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.