Isabelle: The Life of Isabelle Eberhardt

Annette Kobak, Author Alfred A. Knopf $22.95 (258p) ISBN 978-0-394-57691-6
This captivating biography describes a turn-of-the-century Russian adventurer who was drawn by her romance with Islam to travel throughout north Africa, writing about the lives of the colonial French and local Arabs . Her colorful career ended abruptly in death at the age of 27 in a torrential flash flood that struck a remote hillside garrison in Algeria. Born in 1877 in Geneva, Eberhardt bore the maiden name of her mother, who had left Russia and her elderly husband, a general, five years earlier to go to Switzerland with her children's tutor, an anarchist. Never sure of her identity, Eberhardt embraced a series of disguises as a teenager and afterward, taking a series of male noms de plume and dressing as a man, which eased her way into the tents and Moslem monasteries of the desert. What was not in question was her sexuality, which was decidedly hetero: Eberhardt's fondness for ``nights of love'' culminated in marriage to an Arab officer in the French colonial cavalry. In this well-researched book, Kobak, a British writer who translated Eberhardt's only published novel, Vagabond , skillfully weaves brief excerpts from her subject's work into her riveting story. Illustrated. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/1989
Release date: 03/01/1989
Paperback - 978-0-679-72821-4
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