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3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,270 ratings  ·  124 reviews
With her anthropologist husband murdered and their caravan stolen by fierce Tuareg tribesmen, Caressa's choices are death or a life of slavery.

Concealing her dangerous beauty beneath the faded robes of an Arab boy, she embarks on the adventure of her life, harassed by vicious nomads, slave traders and the envious witch doctor, Isa. Only a handful of carnival magic tricks
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 1st 1995 by Ballantine Books (first published 1992)
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Lisa Hollywood would mess it up..... draw out the 'sex' scenes which would take away some of the action (probably combining some legs of the journey) - and…moreHollywood would mess it up..... draw out the 'sex' scenes which would take away some of the action (probably combining some legs of the journey) - and probably age Bakuli by a half dozen years to create sexual tension.

IF they could do it staying true to the original story (and I understand that no one can make a line by line movie version of the book), then that would be great... but Hollywood would muck it up. :((less)

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Average rating 3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,270 ratings  ·  124 reviews

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Peter Tillman
Sondra Eklund's review:
5-star, best reread fiction , 2002.

"I can’t think of another book quite like Caravan. It’s as thrilling and full of suspense and life-or-death escapes as a spy novel, but there’s no spying involved. It’s got a beautiful love story, but that doesn’t start until toward the end, so you couldn’t call it a romance. Besides that, the love story is completely untraditional. You could probably call it a coming-of-age novel, but no one else e
Jan 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to escape for a while
This is probably one of my favorite books ever! I read it in high school and have re-read it several times since, something I don't do often. If you have ever read Gilman's Mrs. Pollifax series you know they are quick and fun, but they are mediocre in comparison to Caravan. It is a jewel of a story! Her writing style is well-researched and seamless. The characters and scenery are described so vividly, you will forgive the occasional stretch in credibility. That's why it's called "fiction", right ...more
The main character, toward the end of this book, points out that she spent her life more-or-less allowing others to make her decisions for her, and that is indeed one of the more frustrating aspects of the book. This is a 'story of my life' book, and not one of my favourites among the Gilmans, in part due to the way Caressa is pushed along by events and other people rather than having any real desires or inner life of her own (until late into the book).

Unfortunately the central romance revolves
Truly breathtaking. I was utterly absorbed and felt Caressa's journey with all of my senses, heart and soul. I loved this so much I can't write an adequate review. Even the few things I'm not sure I "liked" fit somehow so smoothly into the story that it didn't mar the overall experience. This is one of those books that just made me feel giddy with the sheer wonder of reading a book that matches perfectly with ones own tastes and mood. It may not suit everyone quite so well, but I hope it continu ...more
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One word to describe this book- Atmospheric!

The amount of research and care that has gone into this book is staggering and the descriptions are probably what I love the best about this book. It is really immersive and sends you into the deserts of Africa so that you can almost taste the sand in your mouth.

It is divided into 4 books and the last 2 books are where the pace really picks up and the plot becomes solid. Loved the relatively happy ending as well.
Jessica Clark
Mar 24, 2019 rated it did not like it
If you’re going to read Dorothy Gilman, read the Mrs. pollifax series. This story was filled with death, rape, and too much disappointment for my literary taste. If you watch the news, you’ll have a nicer read than this one.
Aug 01, 2020 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
1.5 stars. An extra half-star for Bakuli, to whom I dedicate this highly negative review. He couldn't save this book, but he tried his darnedest.

I feel it necessary to mention that I DON'T dislike Dorothy Gilman's work; quite the opposite. I love Mrs. Pollifax's adventures, A Nun in the Closet is an absolute delight, and Incident at Badamya is a masterpiece. She wrote some terrific books and I strongly encourage everyone to read them. Except this one.

Caravan is to Incident at Badamya what Ed
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really fun period adventure story with elements of magical realism. Second time I've read it - it's that good! ...more
Jannah Cloud Child
Jan 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
Ive been listening this via text to speech on and off and regret it because it's an epic and I know that I didn't appreciate the immense journey so definitely hope to read again

An amazing journey of a lady who started off as a pickpocket from a circus, only to be whisked away into the African Sahara by her rich husband, captured by several people, escape, meet the live of her life and so much more.. it's an intense journey..

Only niggle (and to be honest I have this with her books and many others
Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*
An adventure story, not a mystery, it was definitely filled with emotion - most of it depressing to me. The first quarter, and the very end, were fascinating. I confess to growing unreasonably bored when she is in the desert and with different tribes, customs, languages, and slavery. Sometimes infuriated, sometimes nearly put to sleep, the middle accompanied with several depressing situations and deaths didn't help my mood when rating this one. It was, on the positive side, unique and adventurou ...more
Ashley Lauren
May 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I've read this book twice now and it is truly incredible. It has everything - every twist and turn you can imagine. It's the story of a young girl told by an old one where you can feel the truth of it but with the knowing eye of an old woman looking back. This is a book where horrible, terrible things can happen to the characters and somehow you still want their lives. This book is magic wrapped up in one neat little package and now I can't say anything else without just positively gushing.

And I
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
A hapless heroine with a ridiculous name survives a series of adventures, mostly in the desert; but none of the adventures are particularly fun, and the heroine's big romance contains one of my least favourite tropes ever. It was readable, but I didn't find it very enjoyable. There are much better Gilmans to be had. ...more
Afton Nelson
Jul 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult
Clearly, I love stories of strong women and Caravan's Caressa definitely fits into this category. This story was tense, exciting, sad and happy and in the end, maddening and then triumphant. ...more
Mar 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is one of my favourite books in the history of Ever. I'm still dragging around the battered old paperback copy I've had since I was a teenager. ...more
Apr 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favourite books. I cry every time i read it and i try to read it every couple of years.
Donna Syler
Apr 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I agree that this is probably one of my all time favorite books. It was such an amazing book. And what a change from the Pollifax books.
Jan 17, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
This book has a tantalizing inside cover suggestion about how the inside story will unfold, but I have tried and tried and tried some more to identify with the main character or possibly the supporting cast for such a long time now (I don't remember exactly how long so I can't put down exactly when I started it - I think I had grabbed it from the booksale four years ago) and it doesn't feel like my turnaround and realisation I actually like this sad excuse of 263 pages is going to happen any tim ...more
Mar 09, 2018 rated it liked it
The life story is told by the older Caressa. At first I thought the book was a sort of biography as you could feel the truth of it. This book is filled with horrible and terrible happenings that force Caressa to use quick thinking and look for ways to avoid some type of gruesome reality.

We see her ability to stay calm act cleverly when Jacob has his mishap. She keeps her fear hidden and watches Jacobe’s behaviour all the while knowing he is heading for disaster. He never showing any apprehensio
Feb 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-era, fiction
Dorothy Gilman is probably best known for her Mrs. Pollifax series, but she also has written a number of stand alone books. This is one of them.

The story of Caressa Horvath is told be her, starting in the early 1900s when Caressa is 16. She already knows how to do magic tricks, pick pockets and other tricks as taught her by her Grams, but her Mum has plans for Caressa to attend a proper girls’ school and learn to become a lady. Carny life isn’t a good enough life for Caressa, in her mother’s eye
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dorothy Gilman’s CARAVAN
What a stunning adventure! The descriptions of the heat of the desert were almost enough to make me forget the sub-zero weather outside. Caressa, while young, faces danger with maturity, courage, humor, and a philosophy of appreciation of friendship, beauty, good fortune. “Wealth is relative.” Omar Khayyam: “The Caravan of life is moving by, Quick! to your places in the passing show.” Take the “little perfect hour.” Enjoy the beauty of the open sky, the silence and space
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Carissa Richman is a young woman raised in a carnival. She learns many skills such as juggling, magic and picking pockets. One day she picks the pocket of a man who catches her. He decides to take her under his wing. Even though Jacob is much older than she is, he marries her and takes her on his travels to Africa. He is going to study the desert and will write an article for his geographical society. They take a caravan from Tripoli but are soon raided by pirates and Jacob and all of the men wi ...more
Dorothy Gilman has long been one of my favorite authors. While she is best known for the amazing Mrs. Polifax series, I prefer her stand-alone novels. Caravan tells the tale of Caressa Bowman, the daughter of a circus family fallen to the level of the carnival sideshow. Because of her mother's ambitions for her daughter, Caressa winds up at 16 years old in a ladies finishing school in Boston. Homesick and isolated, she practices her pickpocket skills in a local park--and meets her soon-to-be hus ...more
Sep 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
It is lovely when love (true love) wins out, and the obstacles and jealousies of others come to naught. In this novel, Caressa leaves her carnival life (and her beloved grandmother, and mother) for a year at a finishing school in Boston.

Her life has pivotal moments when her skillset (sleight of hand, manual dexterity and all that that can entail) saves her life. She journeys to Africa, is assumed to be dead, and has extraordinary adventures. She discovers a side of herself she didn't know exist
Feb 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I listened to this book. I think the narration was instrumental in making this such a thoroughly enjoyable story. It is a tale of a young woman's survival in the desert as told by her older self. She not only survives, but she she learns from her trials and from those who help along the way. I suppose this is a hero's journey. To me this is the best of Dorothy Gilman, and I have loved all that I've read by her. ...more
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have read this story at least three times. I love to listen to the audio version so I can hear the correct pronunciation of all of the names.
Dorothy Gilman's Mrs. Pollifax series is very good too, but Caravan stands alone. I have read all of her books over the years and her memoir too. All enjoyable!
Aug 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Summer reading Dorothy Gilman binge in progress. I haven't read Mrs. Pollifax;I came to Dorothy Gilman through her teen fiction, The Calico Year. Caravan did not disappoint, but it's hard to imagine the two stories coming out of the same mind, they are so different. I'll be reading more of this author to see what else she had in her. ...more
Ellen Yankee
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Caravan is my favorite Dorothy Gilman, and I love all her books. She manages to mix high adventure, realistic detail, emotional interest and a bit of magic in all of her books; this one is the wildest and the best. I don't want to give anything away; I've read this book easily six or more times over the years, and I love it every time. ...more
Aug 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adventure
I loved this adventure story! I picked this book up from a little neighborhood library in Savannah, GA. Although these are older books and not many of my piers have heard of Dorothy Gilman, I must say that her work is excellent and full of excitement! I'm looking forward to the Mrs. Pollifax series! ...more
Linda Timm
Aug 29, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kiwi Carlisle
Nov 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
I found this a competent, but largely conventional “historical” romance of its period. It feels as if the author did a bit of research on African languages and cultures, but somehow the supernatural elements she included don’t quite work. Realism would probably have made for a better story.
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Dorothy Gilman was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to minister James Bruce and Essa (Starkweather) Gilman. She started writing when she was 9 and knew early on she was to be a writer. At 11, she competed against 10 to 16-year-olds in a story contest and won first place. She attended Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and briefly the University of Pennsylvania. She planned to write and illustrate ...more

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