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on 3 November 2013
I loved reading about the various areas in Antarctica and the difficulties encountered when living there. Very well written too.
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on 30 December 2013
I found it a most exciting books. I had no idea what is going on in Antarctica and Sara Wheeler 's prose was easy to read and informative.
I enjoyed it so much and I have given copies to my son and son-in-law!
Jessica De Michel
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on 14 December 2012
Reading this book for part of my module in Travel Writing. I would recommend you read it if you like this sort of this thing?
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on 6 May 2016
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on 10 November 2012
Sarah Wheeler's 'Terra Incognita' is the account of the writer's relatively recent travels in Antarctica.

I decided to read the book because I was so impressed by Ms wheeler's biography 'Cherry' - an account of the life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard. (see my review) However, I have to say I was rather disappointed with this book which was written in a quite different style - indeed, if I had not known the authors were one and the same person, I could not have guessed it.

But I note that I am in a minority. Judging by the many very positive other reviews of the book, most really enjoyed it - so in the end it must just be down to personal perceptions and taste.

Can I say from the start that I certainly admire Ms Wheeler's writing ability. There are within the book some beautiful descriptive pieces which evoke the mood and the majesty of the Antarctic continent. What niggled me though was the apparent pointlessness of the journeying. If there was a purpose, other than a rather unusual holiday, it escaped me. Additionally, the narrative flitted rapidly from one location to another, seemingly randomly. Characters were introduced at a rate of knots, and quickly disappeared. I never felt I got to know any of them very well. Interspersed with the overall narrative, were snippets of historical episodes - Scott - Shackleton etc. But for me, none of these added insights to the heroic deeds of those pioneers of old and I could not work out why each snippet was placed in the particular place in the narrative that it was. And it may be a generational issue, but I became intensely bored by the 1001 references to the trivia of daily happenings, but more especially the banal conversations of the many characters whom Ms Wheeler met on her travels - surely there was much more to the various scientists et al who featured than the lavatorial humour which appeared to permeate their every thought.

But then again, I am clearly swimming against the tide of praise from other reviewers. In my defence, can I repeat, there were parts of the book I really enjoyed -but overall - not my cup of tea.
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on 9 July 2014
A great writer, she has managed to make an inaccessible continent more human, or more to the point, translated a male-dominated sphere of exploring into a female perspective. The landscape is denuded of most features, but Wheeler transforms the abyss of the Antarctic into a spiritual playing, where men, or indeed women might glance into the eyes of God. Supporting the narrative is solid historical detail which lends a glance into the characteristics of other nations, most particularly of Great Britain, making this more of an all round travel book rather than an Antarctic specific. However, the unremarkable and daily detail of coldness, boredom, petty jokes and so on, which make up significant portions of the novel were indeed boring, so that knocks off a point for me. But overall a brilliant read!
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on 4 April 2017
Having just read the review of Mr Brain (not my cup of tea) I couldn't agree more. What was the purpose of her journey, except to write this book. The lavatorial comments were totally unnecessary and for me spoiled the image of a pristine wilderness. I was going to write more but Mr Brain said it all.
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on 2 February 2014
In her writing, Wheeler has a knack for immersing herself in the places that she visits, and teasing out the stories of the location and the people.

She has been appointed writer in residence in Antarctica, and sets about visiting as many of the bases across the continent that she can. Her easy going manner makes it easy for her to fit in with the predominately male staff. She writes about the characters in each of the bases, and the antics that they get up to, and the way that they cope with the isolation and the climate. As people become aware of her presence she get more invitations to other bases. She is put with the artist in residence, and they are allowed to live a short way from the base to they can concentrate on their art and writing. The book covers the history of the polar exploration there too, and the narrative is woven with the places that Scott and Amundsen visited, lived at and sadly perished at.

Wheelers descriptions of the glaciers and landscape are very evocative, but do not hold back from the reality and brutality of the weather and the cold there. It is a beautifully written book, partly because it is one of the places that make her feel so alive and this glee comes across in the book, and also that her observational writing is accurate and measured.
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VINE VOICEon 12 July 2007
This book is extremely well written and enjoyable. Despite containing a lot of historical detail it still manages to entertain, and as I say in my review title it is easy to read. I thoroughly enjoyed the insights into the lives of the historical explorers. I am not a cold weather person but I found myself wanting to go there. The descriptions of the people are well crafted and you feel you know each of them intimately. I particularly like the descriptions of the English v the Americans and I can imagine each one. Why four stars instead of five. I found some of the scientific discussions difficult to understand but don't let this put you off, as the book is an excellent read.
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on 28 December 2007
Sara Wheeler went to Antarctica as part of the American National Science Foundation's Antarctic Artists' and Writers' Program, and found herself virtually the only creative type in a boys' club of Beards (scientists). She hopped all over the continent in a variety of planes and helicopters, learnt survival and other skills, and generally had a great time.

This is an engaging, informative book by a writer who is as capable of poking fun of herself as at everyone else. Even when she's writing seriously about the spiritual aspect of life out in the snow and ice, she doesn't come across as preachy or pompous. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, yet at the same time I felt she'd failed to communicate the beauty of Antarctica to me. Perhaps you have to go there and see for yourself.

Now I've finished reading this book, it feels a bit like parting with a friend, that friend who sits with you in the dark watches of the night, and tells you stories.
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