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To the Moon and Timbuktu : A Trek Through the Heart of Africa
by Nina Sovich

Overview - Nina Sovich had always yearned for adventures in faraway places; she imagined herself leading the life of a solitary traveler. Yet at the age of thirty-four, she found herself married and contemplating motherhood. Catching her reflection in a window spotted with Paris rain, she no longer saw the fearless woman who spent her youth travelling in Cairo, Lahore, and the West Bank staring back at her.  Read more...

 
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More About To the Moon and Timbuktu by Nina Sovich
 
 
 
Overview
Nina Sovich had always yearned for adventures in faraway places; she imagined herself leading the life of a solitary traveler. Yet at the age of thirty-four, she found herself married and contemplating motherhood. Catching her reflection in a window spotted with Paris rain, she no longer saw the fearless woman who spent her youth travelling in Cairo, Lahore, and the West Bank staring back at her. Unwittingly, she had followed life's script, and now she needed to cast it out. Inspired by female explorers like Mary Kingsley, who explored Gabon's jungle in the 1890s, and Karen Blixen, who ran a farm in Kenya during World War I, Sovich packed her bags and hopped on the next plane to Africa in search of adventure." To the Moon and Timbuktu" takes readers on a fast-paced trek through Western Sahara, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, bringing their textures and flavors into vivid relief. On Sovich's travels, she encounters rough-and-tumble Chinese sailors, a Venezuelan doctor working himself to death in Chinguetti, indifferent French pensioners RVing along the coast, and a close-knit circle of Nigerien women who adopt her into their fold, showing her the promise of Africa's future. This lyrical memoir will transport you to the breathtaking landscapes of West Africa, whose stark beauties will instill wonder in even the most experienced traveler. Sovich's journey reveals that sometimes we must pursue that distant glimmer on the horizon in order to find the things we value most.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780544025950
  • ISBN-10: 0544025954
  • Publisher: New Harvest
  • Publish Date: July 2013
  • Page Count: 308


Related Categories

Books > Travel > Africa - General
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Personal Memoirs

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2013-06-10
  • Reviewer: Staff

Discouraged with her domestic life in Paris and career as a reporter, Sovich embarks on an overland journey across West Africa. From her Swedish mother, who felt trapped by suburban life, Sovich inherited an escapist conception of travel: "The overriding lesson of my childhood was that travel was the only thing that could ever make a woman happy." Laced with her piquant observations, Sovich's memoir embodies the persistent longing for adventure her middle class upbringing inspired. As she traverses the harsh landscape from Morocco to Niger, Sovich finds company in the stories of female Victorian travelers, especially Englishwoman Mary Kingsley whom she describes as a "swashbuckler first, scientist second." Rejecting creature comforts, Sovich dives headlong into the desert. "I enjoy my depravation, even feel superior about it. In paring down my life like this I want to remind myself how little we actually need. There is also, however, a tinge of vanity to what I do." What she emerges with is a deeply personal journey into an incredibly remote region. Sovich casts her polished journalistic eye on the anguish and sublime beauty she encounters while unflinchingly narrating her own intensely intimate journey. (July)

 
BookPage Reviews

To the Moon and Timbuktu

A woman finds herself unhappy in marriage, crying in the supermarket; she decides to travel, to get to know herself as an individual, not as a wife, daughter or mother. This is the set-up for the bestseller Eat, Pray, Love and also for Nina Sovich’s memoir To the Moon and Timbuktu. But the comparisons stop the minute Sovich lands in West Africa. Her travels are uncomfortable, often frightening, always illuminating and so beautifully conveyed that the reader feels present, as if she herself is watching a sunrise over the Nile.

Sovich learns early in life that “the bitter sweetness of travel fills me up and makes me feel whole,” and she spends her 20s as a reporter in the West Bank and Pakistan, experiencing new cultures. After Sovich meets her French husband Florent, she finds herself living a bourgeois life in Paris and wondering why she is unhappy. Inspired by Victorian explorer Mary Kingsley, she decides to spend six months traveling in West Africa with the legendary city of Timbuktu as her goal.

Sovich’s journeys are page-turning and suspenseful. In a cheap hotel in the Sahara, surrounded by drunken sailors, she blocks her door with a chair under the handle. Riding across the desert with four men who grow increasingly menacing, she distracts them by telling stories. Sovich finds that the best way to protect herself—and a good secret for all female travelers—is to seek out the company of other women.

Sitting in the women’s section of a market in Mali with a baby in her lap, Sovich encounters a sense of perfect peace. By the time she reaches Timbuktu, she wears a traditional boubou and walks in bare feet. Traveling has transformed her heart and mind, turned her toward the beautiful, glittering world and finally allows her to return home.

 
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