cover image Muddling Through in Madagascar

Muddling Through in Madagascar

Dervla Murphy. Overlook Press, $27.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-87951-342-9

Readers who have followed Murphy's adventures ( Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle ; In Ethiopia with a Mule ) know she is a dauntless traveler, unfazed by the unexpected and physically able to face rigorous conditions. But the Republic of Malagasy (Madagascar) was a challenge. Murphy and her 14-year-old daughter Rachel made their way across and around the southern two-thirds of this fabled island, finding spectacular scenery and severe erosion; there was no reliable modern communication system or transport network, and sanitary conditions were best left unmentioned. Murphy interweaves the story of their adventures with an account of the island's history and its peoples. Nominally Christian, they retain an unusual form of ancestor worship and some animalism with complex taboos ( fady ). The author found them gentle and courteous, untouched by tourism and without a work ethicnearly everything on the island appeared to be crumbling, from infrastructure to education, under Malagasy management. This is a lively tale of adventure in an exotic environment. Photos. (Jan.)