on 10 July 2014
I am sometimes unsure about how many stars I should give a book, but this time I have no hesitation at all. Vultures Overhead is absolutely wonderful and has further fuelled my desire to go to Cuba. Jo Carroll was by turns delighted and confused by this country of contradictions. As always, she writes with insight and compassion, but also real sincerity about her responses to experiences, even those that repel her. I felt I was with her every step of the way and often recognised the confusion wrought by the occasional devastating disinterest of some of the people after being shown immense generosity and kindness by others. What a fascinating account this is. While she does not seek to answer questions (indeed, she asks more than she finds answers for), it is evident from this book that Cuba is a country that can affect the visitor deeply if considered beyond the usual tourist attractions. Very highly recommended!
on 13 August 2015
I loved this book. It is rare to find a book about travel so honest, insightful and compassionate as this one. Jo Carroll's fearlessness - a single woman alone, putting her trust in strangers, is breathtaking. She meets bad food, occasional dodgy accommodation and tricksters with the same spirit. She's sensibly cautious but always ready to try things out, and always hopeful. An amazing woman.
on 21 July 2014
As the previous reviewer mentions, it is not always easy to decide on a star rating for a book. Should we be influenced by how long it is, how much time and work went into it, whether it was well written/enjoyable/informative/absorbing? I try to judge by my feelings and reaction at the end, whether too many things tripped me up (e.g. errors, something unexplained or unfinished), and whether I'd recommend it to others. Because Jo Carroll's Cuban odyssey is shorter than a novel, it needs to pack a punch - and it does. As with her previous work, I felt I was just a step or two behind Jo, experiencing the same surroundings but without any of the risks. She has the gift of writing so as to immerse the reader in her expeditions, and I felt she gave a real flavour of the ups and downs for the Cuban people and for their visitors. She is a real, genuine traveller and I fully recommend Vultures to anyone who has - or might have - an interest in the Cuban way of life, or those who enjoy reading 'travelogues' for their own sake.