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.
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.
This was basically a diary (now known as 'blogs') and boy,does it show.I don't really know why Ms.Carroll went to Cuba other than to chat about it with other 'travellers'.She provides virtually no info.on the country and seems to spend her time sitting around reading and getting bored.At the end of the book she actually says 'Maybe I simply don't want to be here' Many questions are thrown up i.e. ' 'How does this reconcile with the socialist ideas of Che Guevara? I've no idea.I scratch my head and still have no idea' .Enough said.Steer clear!
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!