Backpack Paperback – 1 Feb 2001
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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 ExpressSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
"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!
I lived and travelled in Southeast Asia and recall some similar experiences! It's well researched and really did being back some of my memories!
It's a well written book, the murderer sub plot adds to it and it's certainly a book I would recommend to others.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Understand it is very good but bought as a present, so unable to personalise this reviewPublished 14 months ago by R. A. Heaps
Great read, didn't want to put the book down.Published 15 months ago by Victoria Jennings (Patching)
I couldn't stop reading this in the end!! Real page turner towards the end of the book. Recommended read for anybodyPublished 18 months ago by Ms. A. J. Gore
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... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Kate Hopkins
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 goodPublished on 22 April 2014 by FG
I started my Emily Barr journey with a more recent book, so have started again from the beginning! Highly recommendedPublished on 4 April 2014 by freddie
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 on 18 Dec. 2013 by Donald R. Sleigh