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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read. Don't judge a book by it's cover!
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...
Published on 19 Mar. 2001

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3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Tourist-Thriller
Tansy Harris is rapidly sliding into an abyss of drink, drugs and general misery. When her alcoholic mother dies - just before Tansy's long-lost illegitimate half-brother turns up - she hits rock bottom, and ends up overdosing on booze and cocaine. When she wakes up in hospital, she realises that things have to change. Leaving behind her manipulative boyfriend Tom and her...
Published 6 months ago by Kate Hopkins


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3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Tourist-Thriller, 9 Jan. 2015
By 
Kate Hopkins (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Backpack (Paperback)
Tansy Harris is rapidly sliding into an abyss of drink, drugs and general misery. When her alcoholic mother dies - just before Tansy's long-lost illegitimate half-brother turns up - she hits rock bottom, and ends up overdosing on booze and cocaine. When she wakes up in hospital, she realises that things have to change. Leaving behind her manipulative boyfriend Tom and her job (what does she do for money - presumably probate on her Mum's estate hadn't been granted yet?) she takes off on a backpacking adventure, planning to visit Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Tibet, India - and anywhere else that takes her fancy. For a while, all seems to go fairly well. Tansy can't get drugs abroad, and even begins to drink a bit less. She makes friends with Australian backpackers Ed and Ellie, American backpacker Greg and his friend Juliette, and with the enigmatic Max, a bearded wanderer who before long is her lover. But in the background a menace lurks. Women keep dying in countries Tansy's planning on visiting - and are found clutching memorabilia remarkably like some of Tansy's stored at her father's house. And Tansy herself has a dark secret about her mother, which she needs to confront if she is to establish any sort of life for herself.

Barr is great at capturing the atmosphere of the various countries that Tansy visits, and the life of the backpacker - I wasn't surprised to learn that she's done a lot of travel-writing. The various backpackers and locals that Tansy meets are vividly pictured: I particularly liked Juliette, who decided to give Tansy something of a social conscience, and Ellie, who provided her with much needed love and support - Max too was intriguing, though he remained (intentionally?) somewhat of an enigma. As 'tourist-fiction' this was great fun. And Barr also says some wise things about life for the middle-class woman in London today, and the 'rat race' into which so many end up throwing themselves.

My problem with it - as with a lot of other reviewers, I see - was that I wasn't particularly keen on Tansy. Had Barr told us in more detail about her troubled childhood and her problems with her Mum I might have understood her more, but as it was, despite the fact she'd clearly put up with a lot in her time, she came across rather as a rich spoilt brat and - because of her extreme self-preoccupation - ultimately a bit boring. This meant that I didn't get quite as drawn in as I think I should to the whole drama of whether she was going to meet the mysterious serial-killer or not. And the 'serial-killer' element of the novel was also somewhat underdeveloped - it would have been great to learn more, in more detail and earlier, about the murderer's psychology and why they had to kill multiple women, rather than just try to get at Tansy. In the end, the thriller aspect felt rather tacked on to the novel.

Not wholly satisfying then - but Barr's excellent creation of atmosphere and good writing made it still an enjoyable read. I'm looking forward to exploring more works by this author, particularly her later novels - and to reading the sequel to Tansy's adventures.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping read, with plenty of laughs along the way, 15 Feb. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Backpack (Paperback)
This excellent first novel grips from the start - not least because of its heroine. Tansy is opinionated, shallow and rude, but you love her anyway, mainly because she has a sharp sense of humour - you'll be laughing from page 1. The book develops not into the typical romance you might expect (though that's in there too) but a tightly plotted thriller and a real page turner. Fresh and original, it's highly recommended and particularly good winter escapism - it makes you want to travel, though it also makes you think anew about the backpacking 'industry'. Excellent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy reading but it kept me reading!, 23 July 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Backpack (Paperback)
This book is the travels of a woman in her twenties who is travelling within countries in Asia and India. As she travels, she learns about murders that have happened in each of the countries she has been to. The twist in these murders is that the bodies have been found with objects which she owns. This plot intertwines with a relationship which develops even though she has a partner in the U.K. This book involves many different emotions and adventures which makes it a fantastic read, an ideal book for reading on a sunny beach!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping read! Would be an amazing film!, 14 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Backpack (Paperback)
This would make the most amazing film! I've never read Emily Barr, but I borrowed this off my sister-in-law, and I had to buy my own, so I could re-read it over and over again. I love the way I felt slightly down on Tamsy during the first few chapters, but you grow to love her as you see her change. The twist is AMAZING! I'm very rarely shocked, but this made me fall off my chair! (Which was good, as I had been sitting there all day reading non stop!) I can't wait to read another Emily Barr book! :D
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very easy and fun read., 3 Oct. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Backpack (Paperback)
I bought this book to get away from my busy life of being a postgraduate student. Once I opened it, I found myself being unable to put it down to do my course readings! I very much enjoyed Tansy's voice and her account of backpacking through Asia. I must say that it truly inspired me, as a female, to venture out and do some traveling myself. The only thing I would change about the book is its ending, but I wouldn't discourage anyone from reading the book because of it. Overall, I loved it!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good travel writing but lacking in story & plot, 18 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: Backpack (Paperback)
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. I have now read several of Emily Barr's novels, and this one I personally found not as good due to the fact that there was very little story and plot. I prefer novels with more story line and plot that keep me gripped.
The focus of the book is on the travelling aspect - the different countries, places and politics.
There is also a great deal of unnecessary psychological rambling going on in Tansy's mind, as told in the first person, and I found a lot of it didn't seem to make sense eg the odd sentence often appears in a paragraph which is not coherent. There is just a bit too much of this. It just lacks clarity.
However the book as a whole does portray a good atmosphere of the places visited.
I found the best Emily Barr's books I have read so far are 'A Perfect Lie' and 'The Sleeper' as these novels are very gripping throughout. 'Backpack' is very differently written with hardly any plot or story at all. But obviously this is a matter of personal taste. 'Backpack' is a good and deeply descriptive book on SE Asia, so if you're looking for a travel book which alternates richly with psychological rambling, then this book is recommended.
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3.0 out of 5 stars depressing, uplifting, intense, 20 Mar. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Backpack (Paperback)
The book is a misnomer of sorts, it cannot seem to work out what it wants to be. This is its strength and its weakness. It dabbles in the genres of romance, therapy by book and a classic whodunnit. In parts it works, in parts it seems to struggle, especially as those chapters which are well written are truly impressive. It gets off to a flying start (albeit intense) and sucks you in so that the book that you picked up over a coffee to while some minutes away with, soon becomes a real page turner. The addition of the e-mail sections are fun and work very well for such a simple idea. The book loses its impetus in the last few chapters however and one should be mindful that the end is a little weak. One cannot help but feel that Emily Barr must have been up against some kind of deadline to finish the novel quickly. That said the final line is totally intruiging and different readers will have different interpretations of it-one certainly for discussion. A reasonably successful attempt at an unconventional novel very much capturing the protagonist's inner turnoil. A welcome relief for readers who inevitably seem to be faced with a sea of trashy romances aimed at the female 20 something, and want something not dissimilar but a little more challenging.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So fantastic I had to read it again!, 17 Jan. 2003
This review is from: Backpack (Paperback)
"Backpack" ain't your typical travelogue and Tansy ain't your typical heroine. But beyond this sharp-tongued, foul-mouthed exterior is a deeply endearing protagonist who develops together with this wonderfully tongue-in-cheek book. Join cokehead Tansy as she comes to terms with her turbulent past, discovers Asia and flirts with death - both voluntarily and otherwise.
"Backpack" will make you question your own notions of tourism and colonialism. Did you know, for example, that Laos got bombed by the Americans every eight minutes every day for nine years?
Fantastically written, there are many observations that ring true to anyone who's ever been globetrotting - and many of Tansy's cynical comments regarding the institution of "backpacking" had me laughing out loud!
Add a chilling thriller into the equation and you've got one mindblowing read. And what a wicked twist!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely brilliant, 21 Nov. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Backpack (Paperback)
I dont want to start ranting and raving, but this is such an enthralling read. From the first chapter you are compelled to read on to see what happens to Tansy - then it takes a bit to get into the story but from the 4th chapter its hard to put it down. If you ever thought about travlleing, but had doubts read this book, even though there is a scary undertone - you'll still be impressed and want to explore the world!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!!!!, 21 April 2007
By 
Mrs. K. N. Green "just2dizzy" (isle of wight, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Backpack (Paperback)
I initially dismissed this book as a light-hearted chick lit holiday read but I soon found myself drawn in to the book with the great writing, the interesting characters and the wonderful imagery of all of those countries. It is making me re-think my long life plan - feel like dropping it all for a few years travelling!

I will certainly be looking out for other books by this author!
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Backpack by Emily Barr (Paperback - 1 Feb. 2001)
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