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3.9 out of 5 stars55
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 4 December 2013
I liked the mix of travel book and reflection.i feel I now know more about Saharan Africa and the way of life there.the book shows love and sympathy for the people there and also a way of life we can learn from.
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on 8 December 2013
There are people who write to tell a story; some who write to put across a point of view; and some use the process of writing to discover things about themselves that they did not know. This last category contains many examples of hopeless self-indulgence and self-deception, but on rare occasions an honest and painful struggle is expressed in clear liquid prose that not only provides illumination to the writer, but may enable the reader to know the writer better than they do themselves.

Sovich is born into a life of financial security and comfort, but learns from her restless mother that although these things are central to their way of life, they have their price. Her mother tinkers at the edges with the self-indulgent slumming of the idle rich, but always returns to the nest. As Novich matures into an adult she follows her mother's restlessness with adventures of her own - but also always returns. By her early thirties she is married to a man who loves her deeply, and whom she loves in return . . . but it is not enough. She decides to emulate her mother, but to the extreme: not just a few weeks slumming, but a solitary and hazardous journey through wild and unknown parts of Africa. She returns, falls pregnant, goes out one last time.

For all the tribulations of her journeys, she is, because of her wealth, never more than a cab-ride from an airport and a plane home. However, what makes this memoire stand out from the countless hippy-trail indulgences of the other comfortable middle-class travellers she meets, is the honesty and clarity with which she describes her dilemma. She seeks to find herself herself by solitude and danger and trial, but the things she is running away from are in her own head. Her voyaging is in some ways a type of self-harming, in which only by exposing herself to the pain of loneliness and discomfort can she gain release. She stretches the envelope of her existence to the limit, but will never risk giving up her financial security - the one single action that would set her free, but would pose other different problems that might for her be insuperable. Her money allows her close-up glimpses of the lives lived by the people she moves amongst, but she is always an observer, always detached - however open the conversations and physical intimacy with the women she meets. She is always the purchaser, never the seller: and those two experiences are further apart than the suburbs of Connecticut and the villages of Africa.

Her life is, as it is for all of us, a flawed compromise to which there is no solution. It is this integrity of this self-revelation, and how she is learning to live with it, that is the magnificent power of this book.
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on 5 April 2014
I downloaded this Kindle book as a bargain deal last Christmas. For that reason I thought it might not be up to much but was willing to take a chance. How wrong I was. Although I could never consider travelling and taking such risks as described here by the author, I have to say that I found her tale captivating. I bounced from feeling horrified at the risks she took and the conditions endured by her and others, to feeling a sense of peace and calm along with her for having 'discovered' her Africa - something she'd always wanted to experience.
Yes, it's a tale about her experiences, both leading up to the trip(s) (briefly) and whilst in the midst of them. I'm still puzzled though by her husband's laid back attitude to it all, but that doesn't detract from the enjoyment of the book.
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on 29 August 2013
Nina Sovich's memoir "To the Moon and Timbuktu" is a breathtaking solo adventure across North Africa. It's also a quest to find a balance between adventure and solitude, security and love. Nina said too much solitude made her crazy whereas too much security lead to restlessness.
Unhappy with herself, her marriage and work at Dow Jones, Nina at age 33, left her year long life in Paris to trek through Western Sahara, Mali, Mauritania and later Niger. She said life in Paris had become hard, her work drained her and left her scattered and she'd lost her ability to read signs of love from her husband who worked twelve-hour days.
Nina, originally from Connecticut, mostly attended boarding schools in her early years while her Swedish mother took long sojourns around the world. Her American father, like her husband, worked twelve-hour days at his dental practice.
Nina's beautiful prose flow like the Sahara Desert - the stark beauty of landscape, the fascinating people, dusty towns and heartbreaking poverty. The town of Ségou on the Niger River was the most beautiful. She said, "the Niger here is clean and light, empty of industry and people stretching nearly a third of a mile across. Brown grass sways in a light wind and mango trees cluster by the river like old women at a well...A white crane swoops near the water, loses sight of his prey, and pulls up into a high arch before cutting out over the savanna...There is nothing but golden savanna and swaying trees as far as I can see. This isn't Eden. This is the world after humans have passed on and God has returned to the earth."
If Ségou is heavenly, Djenné, the next town, is hellish. Nina says, "It was as though the gods wanted to pull me back down to earth. The landscape dried out, the baobabs disappeared, and people became religious." She said the food became scarce and the people were "...hot, cranky and unwashed...for the first time I saw ill-looking children with distended bellies and listless eyes."
Nina Sovich's story reminds us of the struggles and contradictions in our own lives and how we are, or could be, travelers in a world of marvels.
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on 1 February 2014
Having travelled extensively to many areas off the beaten track I loved this book which is well written, very descriptive, I felt I was there, I could feel the atmosphere, smell the air the writer brings everything
to life. Africa is one of my favourite places but this trip undertaken was quite arduous and risky at times.
This would appeal to the ardent travellor.
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on 27 December 2013
What can I say. Done with the book but with the heat of Africa racing throung my body I e-mailed my 3 sisters & 3 neices/nephews in Australia, my 2 best friends in USA and same same in Brazil - to without delay get a I-Pad / Kindle download of this enchanting biography.

Read it, love it, be horified, have faith in dreams.

I often read a book and forget the authors name. I will never forget the name or story of Nina Sovich.
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on 11 November 2013
Even if I am not a woman I could understand her feelings in all the adventures in West Africa. She has been there even when she was pregnant! Amazing, human, beautiful background
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on 11 March 2014
The places sounded wonderful, the people were lovely, a dose of fear and some hardship but never felt anything for the storyteller. Not quite a story about finding yourself more about trying to find an excuse not to be yourself. Never really got going for me.
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on 1 June 2014
Like many books that I've recently read about travel, this one is really a search for her identity; who is she, what does she really want, where is her life going? Several times I was tempted to give up, her apparent self-indulgence made me cross. Has her extensive travel through some difficult countries really helped? I do hope so.
Where I do agree with her is about the stuffiness and formality of life in Paris. We lived there for 3 years and her descriptions are spot on. But Paris is not France and other regions, such as the Aude in the south-west are really friendly.
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on 27 December 2013
Rare to find such honest and insightful personal reflection combined with great travel writing. Captures the highs and lows of travelling alone while understanding the root of why you are there.
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