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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 3 June 2013
Cherry Briggs must be a young woman possessed of a strong constitution and considerable patience. Circumnavigating Sri Lanka using public transport, she records her conversations with a cross-section of Sri Lankan society, muslims, buddhists, trainspotters, the war-torn, tsunami ravaged, and mosquito-bitten travellers. What emerges is a delightful description of an island that has emerged from civil war and begun to 'love living' again. Briggs describes the flora and fauna of the teardrop Island with the benefit of her knowledge of biology to colour and evoke without preaching. Contrasting life in Sri Lanka today with the way Sir James Emmerson Tennant found it it the 1800s, we find little and much that has changed. This is a gentle book that informs, educates and entertains. An easy read - the pages melt away. Briggs' learning is worn lightly and we also learn something of the author, revealed little by little as her journey progress.

This is the author's first book and her style and confidence as a writer improves with every chapter. A more precise job of editing would be useful for the next volume - which I hope follows soon. Anyone visiting Sri Lanka for a holiday, gap year or to work will find this book a joy to read as well as gleaning much useful information about living and navigating this beautiful island. Arm-chair travellers are transported in geography and time and will learn much without trying too hard, Miss Briggs having done the work for us.
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on 2 July 2013
This is a beautifully written account of the author's time in Sri Lanka. It combines description of the country and its atmosphere with personal experience. The reader also learns a great deal about the history: this is written in a conversational way and woven in with the stories, so it's easy to read. Cherry's anecdotes and dry humour, as well as the characters of the local people that she portrays, bring this book to life. It's extremely enjoyable and I thoroughly recommend it.
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on 29 March 2015
I'm at a bit of a loss as to why Ms Briggs did this trip. She doesn't seem to enjoy either the journey or what she finds - in fact I'm not sure she really 'finds' anything original at all. Don't get me wrong, it's packed full of facts - probably too many which detracts from the human contact. I got this as a holiday read while in Sri Lanka, and while I agree her observations were accurate she only seems to see the negative and doesn't take in the glory of the surroundings, the humanity and warmth of the people, the wonderful fresh fish curries, a perfect cup of tea, their obsession with cricket .....etc

I really enjoy travel books, some of my favourite writers are travel writers, but they should always inspire you to want to visit yourself or, at least, to want to know more and truly understand a place. I just don't think this book does that, which is a shame as Sri Lanka is a fabulous place and well worth knowing more about. I appreciate she visited following difficult times (after the civil war and tsunami), and those elements are interesting and wouldn't be observed by most tourists, but I still think she just doesn't deliver the heart of Sri Lanka.
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on 1 October 2013
The blurb suggests you will really get a feel for Sri Lanka as the author travels round and sees the "real" country. However, the writing style is too objective and distant (albeit descriptive) and I certainly wasn't drawn into the book. I just about managed to finish it, but felt disappointed.
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on 21 August 2015
I enjoyed Cherry Briggs' travels around Sri Lanka. The book reminded me of the many months I have spent there but I never dared travel up to Jaffna. Next time I will.
Briggs could have made more of the resourcefulness, courage and resilience of the Sri Lankans even though they may sometimes appear lazy. She she does bring out the industriousness of the Tamils. She treats lightly and stoically the discomforts of travelling by bus. They are dangerous, dirty, unreliable and crowded but very cheap. The stillness, a sort of permanent impermanence, lack of progress or preservation of peasant life come through her writing. One feels Leonard Woolf's 'Village in the Jungle' is still a true state of affairs today as it would have been in Tennant's time.
I was hoping she would delineate what the Victorians left behind and what the Sri Lankans have improved since independence. They will not admit it but the most valuable thing they had from the west is the English language. It has enabled many of them to travel to the West and I was not really surprised how many returned to Sri Lanka.
The descriptions of the jungle and the dry zone are good
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on 11 February 2016
The idea of travelling in the footsteps of a traveller from history has been done many times but it works extremely well here. Cherry Briggs is an entertaining narrator as she journeys through Sri Lanka in the footsteps of Victorian adventurer, Emerson Tennant. I read this while on holiday in Sri Lanka and it added a lot to my enjoyment of the holiday. I recommend it for anyone who would like to understand more about the country, including its recent troubled times.
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on 29 February 2016
I visited Sri Lanka in the 80's on a travel agents' educational trip, sadly only for a week but found it very fascinating. Unfortunately our guide spoke so quickly that she was difficult to understand so I found this book filled in a lot of what I had missed. I find too detailed information hard to digest but thought Cherry did it very well, giving just the right amount of interest. Well done.
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on 8 June 2013
A fantastic book full of entertaining anecdotes and cultural references. The author's love of Sri Lanka and honesty about its problems make Teardrop island both interesting and insightful.

A great book for those who enjoy travel writing, are interested in Sri Lanka, or just looking for a well written and engaging book.
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on 5 June 2016
Sadly this book is very disappointing. The author's description of her experiences of Sri Lanka as an outsider is sometimes interesting, but her analysis of the people and situations she finds herself in is extremely naïve, underlying the fact that though she lived in the country for a short period, she didn't begin to understand its complexities. Her overwhelming negativity also seemed to suggest that she wasn't particularly interested in understanding it. The idea of following in the footsteps of Sir James Emmerson Tennent was a good one, but even this link seemed tenuous. I struggled to finish it, but persevered in the hope that it would improve; I fear I should have given up. I certainly wouldn't recommend this to anyone seriously interested in the country, its history or its people, but if one is looking for a collection of anecdotes of a journey, one might find it mildly entertaining (perhaps only just!).
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on 24 February 2014
Having visited Sri Lanka briefly while the war was in progress, I was very interested in Cherry Briggs's account of life in Sri Lanka now. She has a great gift of drawing pictures with her words and I found the tales of her journey round the island fascinating.
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