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Isabelle: The Life of Isabelle Eberhardt

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  92 ratings  ·  12 reviews
An illustrated biography of Isabelle Eberhardt who, although she died young, became a legend in her own lifetime. Using her diaries and many previously unpublished letters, the author tells of her childhood in Geneva, her adventures in the North African desert and her identification with the Arabs. The film rights of this book have been sold.

From Publishers Weekly:
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Hardcover, 258 pages
Published March 25th 1989 by Alfred a Knopf (first published 1988)
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Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
Overall not totally swept off my feet with this biography of a forgotten woman and author of the turn of the century. Isabelle was of Russian birth (out of wedlock) who grew up in Geneva with her siblings and mother but also with a man who never outright admitted his paternity. Her childhood was full of education but never acceptance and she grew up comfortable with taking on the identity of a young boy which she carried through adulthood. Fascinated by Islamic culture, Isabelle felt she was Mus ...more
May 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
Though well researched I found this book to be unnecessarily too long and too detailed. This guy said this and that guy said that...who cares?! Also, the author uses a lot of french words and doesn’t show the translation, which for a non french reader is rather annoying!
Isabelle was an incredible writer and it isn’t even discussed or portrayed here. I’m glad I’ve read her books already, because if I didn’t, after reading only this biography I don’t know if I would bother. Isabelle’s work is
Tony Marshall
She only lived for 27 years, but what an interesting life she lived.
Sufie Berger
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the exciting story of a woman, who broke all rules so that she could explore and travel the world, in the end of the nineteenth century. One of my favorite books of all times.
Cherine Hakani
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“ I am alone [je suis seul- she writes of herself in the masculine gender, occasionally slipping into the feminine], sitting facing the grey vastness of the shifting sea... I am alone... alone as i’ve Always been everywhere, as i’ll Always be throughout this delightful and deceptive great Universe... alone, with a whole world of disappointment and disillusion behind me, and of memories growing daily more distant , almost unreal.”
Aug 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: worthreading, history
I enjoyed reading this book about a courageous woman who accomplished the impossible considering the time, geographic locations she traveled, particularly Algeria, and that she was a woman from poverty stricken aristocratic roots who was as comfortable within the realm of European class as she was accepted by Muslim desert sects in the areas where she traveled, and military power within these same areas.

I have to wonder why her life took such sadly twisted and ill-chosen turns particularly with
May 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Interesting book about a woman whose name I recognized but about whom I knew little. Eberhardt was raised in Geneva by Russian parents with complicated lives! Her mother had left her husband in Russia and lived with the man who was Eberhardt's father (though it was never admitted or acknowledged by anyone in the family that he was her father.) From him she learned many languages, including Arabic. She spent much of her very short life in Algeria, traveling by herself often, living "rough", dress ...more
Feb 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
This is a biography of Isabelle Eberhardt, a rich, well-educated, cross-dressing, sexually liberated and voracious, anarchist, muslim, woman of Victorian-era Europe. She lived among a Sufi brotherhood as a man but fucked them as a woman. She fought against the French on the side of the Arabs. She spoke several languages. She lived fast, and at 27, she died in a flash flood in Algeria in 1904. Quelle vie!
Sep 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Jul 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Fascinating and well-researched biography.
Oct 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Brave woman, fascinating story.
Very interesting life of an unconventional woman
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Born in London, Annette Kobak studied modern languages at Cambridge University and creative writing at the university of East Anglia. She has written an acclaimed biography of the traveller Isabelle Eberhardt, and translated her novel Vagabond from the French. She presented the series The Art of Travel on BBC Radio 4, and reviews travel books and fiction for The New York Times Book Review and The ...more

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