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Backpack [Paperback]

Emily Barr
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan 2002
Tansy has to escape from her London life. She's desperate to get away from her media job, her coke habit, her dead mother and her selfish boyfriend. But she finds travelling through Asia more smelly than romantic and, besides, she's missing her boyfriend. However, she is determined not to give in, give up or go home. As she travels further east she begins to enjoy her journey - until murder starts to be follow her and the trip becomes much more adventurous than she had anticipated.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Plume Books (Jan 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452282934
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452282933
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 13.5 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,951,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Emily Barr is the well-loved and bestselling author of BACKPACK, the original backpacking novel, and many other highly acclaimed novels. A former journalist, she has travelled around the world and written columns and travel pieces for the Observer and the Guardian. After living in France, Emily and her husband (whom she met backpacking) have settled in Cornwall with their three children. For more information on Emily Barr visit her website

Product Description

Amazon Review

It's New Year's Day and the year isn't kicking off well for Tansy: her mother's dead, she's a cocaine addict and her boyfriend has just left her. A trip around the world seems like the only option except that she's not interested in seeing the world, just escaping from it, and the last people she wants to hang out with are backpackers.

Like a lot of travellers on the Lonely-Planet-led Asian Grand Tour, Tansy is intensely irritating at first. Always on the look out for the "real" Vietnam--the one in which she can walk around "like a model, fanning myself gently, strolling into ancient temples and learning about inner peace"--she is opinionated, narrow-minded and remarkably naive (for a supposed media luvvy). Once she has shrugged off her addiction to lines of coke, skinny lattes and Nicole Fahri jumpers, she becomes more appealing. So by the time she's fallen for Max, a fellow traveller, she'll have won you over and you'll be just as worried as she is about the serial killer who appears to be on her trail.

Emily Barr is a former Westminster researcher who now writes for the Guardian and the Observer. Backpack is her first novel and, like Tansy, takes a while to find itself. City-girl pretensions jostle with shoestring-style travelogue and it is only when it hits full-throttle thriller mode that Barr's strength as a novelist becomes apparent. Be prepared for echoes of The Beach--hardly surprising given that Barr was an extra in the film. Also be prepared to get itchy feet--if nothing else, you'll be tempted to reach for that backpack and slap on the insect repellent.--Jane Honey --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


'Barr's debut comes as a blast of fresh air' Sunday Express --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
On the day we buried my mother, I deduce, I have poisoned myself with alcohol and drugs, and woken up in the hospital. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I have no idea why I picked this up. Maybe it was the sticker offering a round world ticket from Bridge the World, maybe it was the title. It certainly wasn't the jacket which was atrocious and did no justice to the intelligent writing of Emily Barr. I loved it. Like many of the other reviewers I have also been travelling but you tend to forget your first impressions of countries. I found it refreshing to read a description of Vietnam which evoked the other side of the country. Yes it is amazing to look out of train windows and see paddy fields and workers in conical hats but you are also driven insane by the cacophony of scooter horns and nothing evokes travelling for me more than the smell of drains and rotting vegetables! I would have been happy with a book revolving around her development as a person, I thought the sub plot of murders was intriguing but it didn't need to all tie up so neatly at the end. I get the feeling Emily Barr felt she ought to do that for the book to be a novel rather than a travelogue and to be honest I prefer the latter. Tansy was a refreshing change to the angst ridden Bridget Jones heroine, she reminded me of Katya in What Katya Did Next...published a few years ago and resulting from a column in the Melbourne Age.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty and intelligent, I loved it 13 Nov 2001
By A Customer
What struck me most about Backpack was how intelligent it was whilst being so entertaining, this book has a strong voice and makes you really identify with Tansy (despite how brilliantly screwed-up she is at the beginning of the book - very funny indeed). I know several people who have read it after or while they were travelling, who loved the travel aspects of it. It's not just travelogue, though, it's a page turningly good plot, with enough of an intelligent viewpoint on travellers, politics and human relationships to make it way more thought-provoking than the chick-lit style of the cover would have you believe.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely one of my favourite books now! 22 July 2001
By A Customer
Once I started reading this book, I just couldn't stop. It was THAT good! I just had to keep reading to find out what happened! At first, Tansy was a real cow, especially when she was at her mum's funeral and in the plane on the way to Asia. But through the course of the book, she grows as a person, especially when she has to choose between her old boyfriend and her new lover. The other thing that made me want to read to the end was the murders. It was obvious that it had to all come back to Tansy, but I only worked out who the murderer actually was about ten pages before she found out. It still came as a bit of a shock though! Anyway, I reckon everyone should read this book, but what else I have to say is it makes you feel really bored at home. I'm dying to just go away and travel the world now!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars will give you wanderlust 9 April 2002
By A Customer
Fantastic book, clever and well written. i do have to agree the end was somewhat sickly sweet but don't we all love happy endings?! Laugh out loud funny in places but very very gripping throughout. i read it from start to finish in 5 hours!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!!!! 18 April 2001
By A Customer
I loved this book! What a refreshing change! There are so many books which do the 'journey to being a better person' thing in some way or another but this was so different. I didn't like Tansy one little bit at the start of the book - she was pretentious, rude and full of herself. Her arrival in Vietnam was quite amusing because I thought 'ha, you deserve to be shocked' and I pretty much expected the remainder of the book to be variations on that theme. How wrong I was! She was a wonderfully well drawn character and Barr's skill at turning your feelings for her around was second to none. The pace was perfect - just as Tansy got settled in a place, in a situation, she would be relocated or there would be a twist. There was always that feeling of dread where the serial killer was concerned - you always knew that she would come up against him eventually and 'that knife' was always in the back of your mind.
I agree with previous reviews that the cover was dreadful. It told nothing of the wonderful book inside and is probably the only thing that let it down for me.
Can't wait for the next one so... Ms Barr... if you're out there please get writing!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Debut! 2 April 2001
By A Customer
Backpack is a refeshing novel about a young woman's spiritual growth during an extended trip around South-East Asia.
It is easy to see Backpack as "The Beach" told from a woman's perspective, and such a comparison reflects favourably on Barr's book. Backpack's strength lies in the progression of the narrative voice. From an unpromising beginning as a spoilt, pretentious London party girl, the heroine, Tansy, becomes more introspective and looks perceptively at her own personality and that of the Western traveller generally. With a serial-killer sub plot which neatly externalises Tansy's anxieties, and a constant stream of small, but significant revelations, Backpack is compelling to read. Although lacking in genuine drama, Barr's novel nonetheless is a thought provoking and quietly confident debut, which displays some subtle writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read.... 16 Aug 2001
I felt like a lot of readers that the central character, Tansy, is at first annoying, selfish, arrogant and just generally downright nasty, but that being said should all "heros" or "heroines" be likeable from the outset? Tansy develops as a person with the whole of S.E.Asia as a backdrop. The book can be seen as an easy introduction to the good and bad elements of that part of the world. The writer gives us Tansy's view of a place and manages to counterbalance it with the view of Juliette or Max or other members of the supporting cast. Throughout Tansy develops and grows, she becomes someone who, if we can't necessarly like, we can at least understand a little better.
If you like a page turner, then this is the one for you, I held back on the Tube platform to read the last few pages and I'm sure you will to.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother
Book didn't flow, was hard to get into.
Published 2 months ago by Chelsey
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Easy reading!!!
Published 2 months ago by hawovi tarr
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down
Great characters. Well researched travel info. Very good story. Really pleased there is a sequel which have just started and it looks to be equally good
Published 6 months ago by FG
5.0 out of 5 stars Love It!
I started my Emily Barr journey with a more recent book, so have started again from the beginning! Highly recommended
Published 6 months ago by freddie
3.0 out of 5 stars Unpleasant main character
That's the problem really. It's difficult to warm to Tansy. When that happens the flow of the story is broken every time she is the main player in the chapter. So a tough read.
Published 10 months ago by Donald R. Sleigh
3.0 out of 5 stars Good travel writing but lacking in story & plot
I found this book quite a good read. The author portrays a good picture of the different places and people Tansy visits on her travels. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Emily Puffin
4.0 out of 5 stars book
I cant put this book down and havent finished it yet. What does bug me though is that when Tansy says the dutch girls have gone on to Thailand. Read more
Published 13 months ago by a leonard
4.0 out of 5 stars Visit various locations with Tansy - Thailand, Lao, Vietnam, China...
"Sometimes travelling alone can be murder".... Backpack by Emily Barr opens with Tansy burying her Mother, the end of a lifetime of care that frees her up to leave her job and go... Read more
Published 18 months ago by TripFiction
5.0 out of 5 stars An all time favourite
Easily one of my all times favourite books, a great story about the raw feelings of a recently bereaved angry girl coming of age while backpacking in Thailand. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Shocking Kindle edition
Great first story spoilt by yet more bad editing for the Kindle Edition...wake up Amazon if you want to charge near paperback prices!! Read more
Published 19 months ago by Richmond designer
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