Wanderlust: A Love Affair With Five Continents Paperback – 16 Jun 2011
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"[A] heady, headlong chronicle of a decade and a half spent adrift"
"The New York Times"
"Eaves is searingly honest"
Editors' Choice, "The New York Times"
"Eaves, a travel writer, has an eye for detail and the worldly insight of fellow globe-trotter Pico Iyer."
""Wanderlust" celebrates the life-changing possibilities of the world around us and the rigors and riches of embracing them body and soul."
"National Geographic Traveler Magazine"
About the Author
Elisabeth Eaves is the author of Bare: The Naked Truth About Stripping, and her travel essays have been anthologized in The Best American Travel Writing, The Best Women's Travel Writing, and A Moveable Feast: Life-Changing Food Adventures from Around the World. Her writing has also appeared in numerous publications, including Forbes, Harper's, the New York Times, Slate, and the Wall Street Journal, and she holds a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University. Born and raised in Vancouver, she lives in New York City.
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Top Customer Reviews
Can't wait to do more travelling now.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
1. There really isn't enough description about the places in later essays. I not only wanted to understand her motivation and read some juicy relationship gossip, I also wanted to learn more about the exotic, and not-so-exotic, locales. I found that severely lacking in the latter half of the book, as she instead focused almost solely on her relationships with men. Granted, a great deal of traveling tends to be about one's relationships with other people, but I didn't sign up for that to be all-encompassing, especially when recounted in such a gratuitously bland and uninteresting manner, sans depth of feeling.
2. That brings me to pretty much my main point, and what soured the whole experience for me: the narrator comes across as cold, devoid of emotion, impersonal and detached. She wrote of these grandiose (and not-so-grandiose) love affairs, but there was a distinct lack of passion throughout. I can forgive almost anything, but not that robotic retelling. I just couldn't empathize with her - despite really, really wanting to - and I actually ended up actively disliking her. Honestly, that really took me aback, as it wasn't that I found her to be morally bereft, necessarily, I just found her tone to be steely, humorless, unfeeling, and completely unsympathetic. This could strictly be a stylistic flaw in her narration, however, in that it's very detached and impersonal, because I can't believe that someone with such enthusiasm for travel is so disconnected from her feelings and those of others; she lays bare her flaws, honorably exposing them for all to see, but never really exposes herself emotionally. For me, that's critical in any author I read, so I can connect with him or her on an emotional - as well as intellectual - level; share in his or her personal (sometimes universal) truths; and hopefully discover something of myself in the process.
Overall, the actual prose is well-written and there are some fairly poignant bon mots, but beyond that, there's not enough description of the places she visits, nor actual human emotion present. For those reasons, I recommend giving this book a pass.
If anyone can recommend a female travel writer who actually taps into what it's really like to go it alone, please comment on this review and let me know. (I enjoyed Frances Mayes' first offering.) Thanks for reading and happy travels!
The way she mentioned being "in love" was irritating. Sex (or the more vulgar term she uses which can't be used in this review) is not love. I doubt she knows what it is. "I love Graham...no wait, I love Stu...but no, I actually love Justin...no wait, I love Stu more..."
I hated how she wrote people off who didn't fit her idea of what constituted as "cool," such as a study abroad student she considered fat, her roommate in Egypt whose fashion sense she didn't like, and even a little Yemeni girl she mentioned as chubby with acne. Seriously, you're going to belittle the looks of a child who's still growing?!
She mentioned feeling uncomfortable with the sexual harassment she got in Egypt and Yemen, but does the most ridiculous thing by dressing up as a Yemeni woman with her friend and wandering alone at night, putting herself in danger. I have no clue what she was trying to gain from doing that. Common sense is not one of Eaves's strongest attributes.
I wanted descriptions not only of the different countries Eaves traveled to, but of the people she encountered in these countries. (No, I'm not talking about her many men who could've easily been found in the States.) The way she describes the people in these countries, especially Egypt and Yemen, you'd think she was talking about wallpaper. These people are treated as caricatures and background. In one scene, a Yemeni woman shows Eaves and her friend kindness by giving them nothing but food and gifts. One of the gifts was a dozen eggs, and Eaves and her friend laugh at this (passing it off as choking). How condescending and patronizing. Anyone else who were as privileged to travel like Eaves is would've treated a kind act for what it was, not looked their noses down at it.
Eaves claims to be an independent woman, but she seemed to define herself more so by what guy she was with at that moment. There was very little self-discovery in this book and a whole lot of sex. Normally I would say for a writer to take a few more years to grow and learn from an experience, but this woman is in her early 40s (reminiscing about her 20s), so how much more growing and maturing can one do? If she hasn't learned her lesson by now, I doubt she will.
I'm giving this review two stars because there are moments when she does give a nice description of the country she's in, but other than that there's nothing I can recommend about this book. Better books about women and traveling are "Go Girl!: The Black Woman's Book of Travel and Adventure" and "A Woman Alone: Travel Tales From Around The Globe."
I had read an article in the New York Times entitled "A Place to Lay My Heart" by Elisabeth Eaves. Poignant and intriguing, the article touched on points like the needlessness of excessive material goods, the complications of love and long distance relationships, and the complexities of life for an American residing outside of the United States. I was excited to find her book, "Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents" and couldn't wait to read it.
Much to my dismay, I found myself reading (with multiple eye rolls)about her sexual exploits in various countries around the world. Elisabeth's judgmental, single minded comments, general ignorance, and arrogant entitled-white-person-in-a-developing-country attitude are exhausting to read: her implicit irritation with seeing a fully veiled 12-year-old girl in Yemen, [paying 6 pounds for a taxi from the airport in Cairo back to her apartment in Zamalek (equivalent to $1 American dollar-- would you show up at an airport in the United States with only a few dollars in your pocket to pay a taxi driver to get home?), complaining about an "obese" American counterpart with whom she knew of in Spain, the ugly Birkenstocks her roommate wore about the American University of Cairo... the list goes on.
Elisabeth goes on to complain about the wealthy Egyptians with whom she attends AUC-- "boys and girls in real designer jeans and sunglasses. They wore heels...". Elisabeth then goes on to say that she had to take an emergency shopping trip to Benneton to buy sweaters in order to replace the hand-sewn, conservative dresses she brought along with her that would "have been ideal for members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints".
Her disdain for her classmates continues. When writing again about her Egyptian classmates, she says "...they rode in cars. They hung out on campus where the gardens and courtyards were enclosed in high walls... or in their private country clubs where they could run, swim, and dine away...". Elisabeth, if you had done a little bit of research or even had the tiniest notion of common sense, you'd realize that the local clientele of AUC includes the upper class Egpytian society.
Throughout the book, Elisabeth goes on to make widely ignorant and all encompassing statements. She continues her entitled attitude by sating that she "...thought of the streets as... a right... we thought the public spaces belonged to us...You can guess a value a culture places on public space. A culture that builds porches and yards, open to the world for all to see, is one what values and embraces the commons. In talking about public space and equality, I'm describing the milieu in which I grew up." Again with the common sense... Elisabeth doesn't seem to have any, nor does she seem to realize she is no longer in the United States.
Again, I am only 25% finished with this book on my Kindle so please take my review with a grain of salt. However, Elisabeth's arrogant and entitled attitude, coupled with her lack of common (or any type of general) sense made this book an extremely annoying waste of time.
I gained nothing from her travels except that wherever you go, guys will still screw you or at least want to. There was not even a real story/plot to her love life. All she did was meet a guy, screw him, fall in "love" and then she decides she needs to be free so leaves current said guy and whatever country she is in and does it all over again. Oh wait, sometimes there was the unique twist of her just cheating on the guy. There wasn't any insight or perspective on maybe why she was just roaming the world aimlessly or sleeping with men without any real emotion (real love? lust? self-hatred? low self-esteem?). All this in the name of "adventure." Seriously, I was going "w.t.f" in my head the entire time. At least give me an awesome description of your surroundings or remember the food you ate OR SOMETHING!!! There was NO story! I felt like I was reading a secret keepsake diary of an 18 year old that that attempted to have descriptive prose.