I first read Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven last year in hard cover and loved it. The Hachette Book Group has just released it in trade paperback and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader.
The review below is a reprint from April 2009.
In 1986, Gilman and Claire make a momentous, drunken, four a.m. decision in their local IHOP (International House of Pancakes). Their place mats feature "Pancakes of Many Nations. So - " Staring at it , we'd had a jolt of inspiration. Why not eat pancakes of many nations in many nations? Why not travel the world? Oddly, barreling headlong into developing countries with a backpack somehow seemed far easier to us than simply getting a job."
Claire is from a privileged background. Gilman has grown up in subsidized housing and attended university on financial aid. They don't know each other that well, but go forward with their plan to travel the world. The first stop is Hong Kong and from there to China. China in 1986 has just opened it's doors to foreign travel.
What starts as an carefree adventure soon develops problems. At first Susan is able to explain away and ignore Claire's small idiosyncrasies. But when Claire mentions to other backpackers that she has heard voices and that there may be a terrorist cell after them, their carefree adventure takes a frightening turn. Stuck deep in a country where they don't speak the language, are physically ill and dependent on the goodwill of others, Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven is almost unbelievable. Yet as Gilman says; " All these events happened, and the people are real. God knows, I couldn't make this up."
An absolutely riveting read. Gilman writes with both humour and pathos - you won't be able to put it down until you turn the last page."
If you like to win a copy to read, simply leave a travel related comment - favourite place to visit, horror story (or a good one). Mine? Well I discovered the joys of Chicago's O'Hare airport last year as an international visitor. A little bigger than the one at home! Open to both US and Canada, no po boxes please. Closes Wed. March 24th at 6 pm EST.