This is truly a travel narrative. Gellhorn calls them horror journeys, selecting the worst of her traveling experiences for this book. Martha GellhornThis is truly a travel narrative. Gellhorn calls them horror journeys, selecting the worst of her traveling experiences for this book. Martha Gellhorn was an accomplished war reporter and was familiar with uncomfortable travel accommodations, but that was during war time. I got the sense she didn't like camping (refuses to while in Africa doing her own safari) and going to remote places could resemble camping.
The book starts out, after some introductions, with her desired trip to China. There aren't dates mentioned but she convinces her husband Ernest Hemingway to accompany her, which means sometime in early 1940s. (They were only married about four years.) The China trip is appalling in her descriptions, their main goal is really just to survive.
The bulk of the book covers her trip to Africa some years later. Traveling alone as a woman and for the sake of seeing what's there was quite unusual. Gellhorn has almost nothing good to say about West Africa, but things improve when she goes to the eastern African countries. Sometimes I had to cringe with her commentary about the blacks, she's not enlightened a bit. She keeps saying how the Whites need to leave the Blacks on their own, but in the end she sets up house there too in East Africa near the coast.
It's very well written and yes, horrifying in some of the descriptions. The level of writing is above most other travelogues I've read. Makes it feel like modern writing has deteriorated.
This novel is an exploration into the opposing sides in the Russian Revolution. The story is framed by Pavel reminiscing, confiding to a priest that oThis novel is an exploration into the opposing sides in the Russian Revolution. The story is framed by Pavel reminiscing, confiding to a priest that on Grand Duchess Elisavyeta Romanov's (Ella) last days the two of them exchanged their stories. This becomes the major portion of the book, alternating between Pavel and Ella.
The historical record was used as much as possible, but this is a work of fiction. Pavel is certainly fictional, but Ella did exist and the story was mostly told from her point of view. What is most interesting about this royalist was that after her husband, the Grand Duke Sergei of Moscow was killed, she sold everything, built a nunnery, becoming a nun herself and runs it as abess. Ella dedicated herself to religion as well as the poor and sick, casting aside all the riches she owned. This actually isn't quite the turn around that it may seem, as when Ella was growing up in Germany her Protestant English mother insisted on her daughters caring for the poor and sick as part of their duties.
This novel is about the Russian Revolution, so times are not peaceful. Despite the problems, Ella refuses return to her home country Germany, and many close her to urge her to do so. She adopted Russia as her home and remains no matter what harm would come to her. The people call her horrible names, many lies are told about her particularly during WWI when Germany and Russia are enemies. Ella sees that she eventually will be arrested, and most likely killed for being a royal, but that does not dissuade her from staying. An intriguing book, but on occasion a bit too much on specific gory details.
I do wonder how much fact was given to Pavel's side of the story. Pavel is to provide the reasons behind the revolution, the way it happened, which in this book is by manipulating the masses with lies, to incite further protests, riots and strikes. I would hope that with so much actual fact in the story side of the Grand Duchess that the same care went onto the other, but without doing the actual research I am only hopeful. In the end I would have liked to have more of Pavel's side of the story, more of what his life was really like, instead of the fleeting moments of plotting to kill someone to further aid the revolution's cause. I am left feeling this is mainly a one sided story, despite the author’s attempt to give us both. ...more
Dostoevsky’s style of writing is very dramatic, drawn-out, tormenting-of-the-soul. This book is no exception. At least it is kept at a minnimum comparDostoevsky’s style of writing is very dramatic, drawn-out, tormenting-of-the-soul. This book is no exception. At least it is kept at a minnimum compared to The Brothers Karamazov (That book seem relentless.)
This was a good book - really. I strongly urge anyone to read it themselves.