26 Mar 2022


 HURRAH! {Huge sigh of relief > Happy dance} ... The last three book reviews of 2021.

Having read and shared my thoughts on the other seventeen books in the Penguin Great Journeys series, today its the turn of the last three books which incidentally are all excerpts from books written by inspirational women, Isabella Lucy Bird, Mary Wortley Montagu and Mary H. Kingsley.

Along with Escape from the Antarctic by Ernest Shackleton and Life on the Golden Horn by Mary Wortley Montagu {more of that below}, Isabella Lucy Bird's Adventures In The Rocky Mountains {an abridged version of her A Lady's Life In The Rocky Mountainsis one of my favourite reads in the whole series. What a woman! {even if it has to be said that, typical of the times, her views on some of the peoples she met were, well, questionable}. Encouraged in her 30's by her doctors to 'do a bit of travelling love, cheer yourself up, feel better', I expect thinking she'd maybes go and take in the sea air at some then fashionable resort not for one moment expecting her to travel to the Americas where, a single, unarmed English woman, she set out to explore the mountains of  Colorado for the main part travelling on horseback.

Another inspirational woman. I admit to knowing relatively little about Mary Wortley Montagu other than that she was known for introducing and advocating for smallpox inoculation in Britain. A fascinating, charming and humorous but alas all too short read. Life On The Golden Horn is an account that whilst at times enlightened for the main parts smacks of a colonial past. Told through a collection of letters {mainly to her sister} of Mary's time spent travelling Eastern Europe with her ambassador husband where, adopting Turkish dress, she encounters a world of harems noting that Turkish women enjoyed more liberty than the English, that, "all veiled up", they had "entire liberty of following their inclinations without danger of discovery.

Mary, a woman ahead of her times in many ways though as is probably to be expected she does hold some what we'd consider racist views. A 'tough cookie' who set off into the jungle with her trusty umbrella, some German camping gear, and a small group of native assistants, and seemingly quite the character; her 'jokes' often told at the expense of the 'natives' though to be fair the Germans also featured heavily in them, I thought The Congo & The Cameroons {taken from her 1897 memoir, Travels in West Africa} which covered her travels through modern Gabon and ascent of Mt Cameroon an entertaining and highly descriptive read of a place clearly loved and admired.


Kelly said...

I'm not familiar with any of these women! (shame on me)

nightwingsraven said...

Isabella Bird, Mary Wortley Montagu
and Mary Kingsley all sound like
truly inspirational women. And their
books piqued my curiosity. I will add
them to my list.
And thank you for your excellent reviews.

DMS said...

Both of these women are new to me. Sounds like an interesting and inspirational series. :)