Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Review and Giveaway - Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven - Susan Jane Gilman


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.

"I'm a big fan of Susan Jane Gilman. Her first memoir Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress had me laughing out loud. I was pretty excited to read Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven.

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."

Check out Gilman's blog - always entertaining! Or you can find her on Facebook.

Listen to a clip or read an excerpt. A neat choice for a book club - there's a reading club guide too.

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.

83 comments:

Cheryl F. {The Lucky Ladybug} said...

My place to visit is Italy -- I lived there for four years and couldn't get enough of it :) *Thanks* for the giveaway!
theluckyladybug[at]gmail[dot]com

Mystica said...

I love India and am dying to go to Manali, and the northern parts.

Thanks for this.

mystica123athotmaildotcom

Misty said...

I just came back from the Philippines, spent a month in a tiny fishing village where almost no-one had ever seen a Westerner before. I loved it there and can't wait to go back. Everyone is so nice; they opened their doors and their hearts to us!

Janel said...

When I was 5 months pregnant I was on a flight from Las Vegas to Chicago. As we were starting to descend into Chicago we started hearing a high-pitched whistle. Apparently the window I was sitting next to had developed a leak!

The attendants assured me it was OK, but they looked as freaked out as I was! Thanks for doing the giveaway!

jgbeads(at)gmail(dot)com

Susan Jane Gilman said...

Thanks for the amazing review; I am stunned. I'm also excited to "meet" other readers here who have had travel adventures of your own.

I suspect that "Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven" will be right up your alley. Would you do me the honor and write to me when you read it? Let me know if you've had similar experiences -- and if the ending of the book was predictable to you?

It's a true story, of course, but I'm curious to know how readers experience it on the page. You can reach me through my website http://www.susanjanegilman.com

This also has a link to my blog, "A View from A Broad" about my continuing travels and misadventures.

I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think!

Crystal said...

I really want to read this. Unfortunately I don't have any real travel stories. DH is more traveled than I am. The furthest I have been was to Missouri (we live in NC) and I have never flown. So I like to live vicariously through this type of book.

crystalfulcher(at)ec.rr.com

pinkilili said...

I can't enter but still want to tell mine :) I absolutely adored the city of Medellin in Colombia and hope to go back soon!

I love your blog Luanne, so here's an award for you:
http://sandalsandsnowshoes.blogspot.com/2010/02/my-1st-award.html

Linda said...

This book sounds very interesting and I think the cover is fascinating. I'm hopeful that someday soon I can visit England and Wales and see the castles I've read about in historical fiction. Thanks for the giveaway.

Amy said...

One of my greatest travel experiences was years ago but I'll never forget it. 2 years after I graduated from college, my college football team, Holy Cross in Worcester, MA was playing Fordham University's football team in Limerick, Ireland. One of my good friends from college had relatives living in Limerick so 4 of us traveled over for the game and then spent 10 days touring several counties in the south and west of Irewland. It was am amazing, wonderful experience. We met many, many people and had a fantastic time!

Susan Jane Gilman's memoir sounds terrific, I'd love to win a copy!

Amy
Aimala127 AT gmail DOT com

xxsquigglesxx said...

I have always wanted to go to Italy. My dad's side of the family is Italian and I've always been interested in the culture and especially the food.

xxsquigglesxx(At)gmail(dot)com

fredamans said...

My dream vacation is Egypt, but I love local vacations in such spots as Niagara-on-the-lake. The old part of town is especially beautiful this time of year.

freda.mans[at]sympatico.ca

mindy said...

i always wanted to take an african safari it is on my bucket list thanks for the giveaway minsthins at optonline dot net

Mary said...

My dream vacation would be to Santorini, Greece but my very favorite is the island of Kauai. My mom was born and raised there and it's so lovely and mostly unspoiled by too many tourists.

mamie316(at)sbcglobal(dot)net

Linda Henderson said...

I don't travel too much but I would love to visit Australia, New Zealand and Ireland.

seriousreader at live dot com

Pat said...

Never get on an airplane when you have the flu - I thought my eardrums were going to burst!

pinkflopflops44 said...

On my honeymoon, the weather in Houson was apparently bad at some point (when i FINALLY got there I only saw sun) and we had to hover for awhile.. we were told we were RUNNING OUT OF FUEL and had to go to san antonio to sit on the ground for over an hour.. when we got BACK to houston, we had missed the only flight out to jamaiaca for the day so we had to spend the nite in houston.. the first hotel the airlines gave us, didnt have rooms for us when we called, the second 1 we barely got there in time.. then the next day we got to jamaiaca around 5 pm WITHOUT OUR luggage.. oh yeah and we had a wedding to go to that saturday in jamaica.. funnnnnnn

a real librarian said...

I really want to go back to Europe and travel around for a while!!!

Oh, and I agree with the poster who said never get on a plane with the flu. I was just starting antibiotics for pneumonia when I had to get on a plance once, and it was the most horrible experience ever!!

Thanks for the giveaway!!

areallibrarian[at]gmail[dot]com

Anonymous said...

I just came back from Palm Springs recently. Had a good time, but other than shopping, not too much to do for younger people!

billiondollarprincesss@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

I haven't travelled in over 8 years since having kids so i would like to live vicariously through others! vivaglmapink@yahoo.ca

Sue said...

Last year for spring break my family visited Maui. Now I wish I could do it every spring break. Not this year, however...
Thanks for the giveaway.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

Nicole said...

I have always wanted to visit Italy. Hopefully, I will someday!

choateorama(at)gmail(dot)com

Jasmyn said...

This books sounds great! My father and I used to visit the Grand Canyon every couple of years. It's absolutely beautiful there. I hope to take my daughter there with me in a couple years.

littlelatina said...

sounds great im in

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, doll. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

Pam said...

Love travelling! I lived in Singapore for a couple of years and got the chance to visit many Asian countries while I was there. A funny story - while in Tokyo, I was depending on the plastic food outside of buildings to determine whether it was a restaurant or not. On one occasion, I walked in and asked for a table for 1 and the hostess looked at me and said "Karaoke?". I said, "No, eat" and she informed me I'd walked into a karaoke bar.

melacan at hotmail dot com

Anonymous said...

HORTON111@AOL.COM

I WOULD LOVE TO GO TO ISRAEL

David Johnson said...

Please count me in, thanks.

Margie said...

One of our favorite places is Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Great food and relaxing ocrean views...
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

rubynreba said...

I would love to visit Norway and Sweden since that is where my ancestors are from.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I'd love to visit Italy!

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

Deborah Wellenstein said...

My favorite travel adventure was taking the train from Omaha, Nebraska, to San Francisco, California-through the Rockies, through the Sierra Nevadas-incredible! Thanks!

AmandaSue said...

Well I've never been outside of North America but I love traveling around the states. I really love going south to Florida. Clearwater Beach is beautiful!

unforgetable_dreamer_always(at)hotmail.com

Haleyknitz said...

i want to go to Ireland. I'm part Irish :) and Ireland is so pretty.... *sigh* and magical!

i'd love to win!!
haleymathiot@yahoo.com

alouzon said...

My favourite place to travel to is Montreal. I am able to stay at my cousin's home, and spend a week roaming the museums and the Old Port with my camera.

-alouzon

DarcyO said...

My favorite place to visit is Clearwater Beach, Fla. Love the beach and restaurants there. Thanks for the giveaway.

dlodden at frontiernet dot net

Ingrid said...

I love to travel. As a young girl and teenager, I lived in Germany with my parents as a military brat. I still have great memories of living there both times. The one place I would love to visit is Hawaii, it doesn't matter where, I just would love to go.

Beth said...

Ugh! I once stayed in a fancy hotel and the water glasses in the room had lipstick marks on them from the previous person!!

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

nfmgirl said...

My favorite trip to date has been an Alaskan cruise. Port calls in Juneau, Skagway and Ketchican. Loved it, and would highly recommend it to anyone!

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

justpeachy36 said...

justpeachy36@yahoo.com

Please enter me in the giveaway.

One of my favorite places to visit would be The Great Smokey Mountains. It's very beautiful there.

Nanci said...

My favorite place to visit is London. Haven't been there in 20 years.

Katrina said...

my favorite place I ever visited was paris and brussels....definitely a life changing adventure

ykatrina at hotmail dot com

Alicia said...

I went thru a crash landing coming back to the States after spending a month in Poland/Ukraine/Russia when I was 8.

Thanks for the giveaway >^..^<

bloggyig at gmail dot com

Bcteagirl said...

I would love to read this one! Was sorry I didn't win a hardcover, glad it is finally out in softcover!

Bcteagirl said...

wups, my email!

teagirl1 at telus dot net

Anonymous said...

I would like to go to disneyworld

jim.coyne2@verizon.net

Melwyk said...

Your description of this book makes it sound irresistible. Just the brief summary freaks me out! I have to read this.

My best trip was to Kyiv - everything went smoothly, I had sunshine every day, it was wonderful -- except the day we were leaving our taxi didn't arrive so we had to call one (in Russian) and drove to the airport in a torrential downpour in a rustbucket taxi with no seatbelts, speeding. But we made it ;)

My email contact is on my blog. Thanks Luanne!

Tarah said...

My husband and I spent 5 days in London, England and it wasn't long enough. We would love to go back and hit the spots we didn't have time to catch the first time around.

Tarah
tarah716[at]ymail.com

rsbryswrrl said...

My favorite vacation ever was to Iceland. So much natural beauty there and such a charming capital city - Reykjavik. I'd love to go back!

rsbryswrrl at gmail dot com

Aik said...

My favourite place to visit is Cameron Highlands. I just love the cool weather!

aikychien at yahoo dot com

Sue said...

Took my first trip to Cuba this fall. For the number of visitors flying into Varadero the airport was very, very tiny and simple. Going home was a bit disconcerting as you are locked in the booth while waiting to see if they are going to let you go home.

Misusedinnocence said...

My favorite trip was going to London with my Dad.

misusedinnocence@aol.com

Anonymous said...

floating in the dead sea slathered in mud was fun,,thx for the contest..
thehighflyer3(at)hotmail(dot)com

Francine said...

Thanks for the giveaway

fmd518(at)gmail(dot)com

Debbie F said...

The only place I have traveled to was Jamaica. The flight was fine but the bus ride to Negril was memorable!

dcf_beth at verizon dot net

Bookie said...

My favorite vacation spot is Hawaii. Love it there!

Thanks for the giveaway.

dawnpnr(at)aol(dot)com

Sarah said...

I enjoy visiting Latin America but have only been to four countries so far. Would love to see Costa Rica, Chile and Argentina.

Nancye said...

The most amazing place I've ever been to is China. It was surreal walking on The Great Wall!

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Terri said...

The best place I've been is to the South of France. I was all over, Cannes, St. Tropez, even drove to Monaco while I was there. It was amazing! All those yachts, seeing the lifestyle of the rich and famous. It was a while ago, actually right before Princess Diana died and she was there while I was although I didn't see her. It kinda puts a sad spot on my other fabulous memories of it.

Anonymous said...

I was driving through Detroit and got lost in the wrong part. It was a couple of days after the worst devil's night they had ever had. Literally, every third house was burnt. It was very scary.
debp
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

couponmom said...

This book sounds fascinating. Unfortunately, my travels have not taken me out of North America. Were I do hope to go one day is Italy, though.

formycontests@gmail.com

Jinxy and Me said...

I went to China 2 years ago and I absolutely loved it!

Debbie F said...

I have only been to Jamiaca. But I love it!

dcf_beth at verizon dot net

karen said...

The Margaritas in Cozumel are good. Sogood, in fact, that my sister and I came within minutes of missing our cruise ship because of them. Thanks.

president(dot)peaches(at)hotmail(dot)com

Rachel said...

Always been too poor to travel to anyplace fun, always for family visits and such, but I did get to sleep on a cot in the Houston airport once. I was a teenager and had a bad attitude the whole time :)

racheliznewman(at)gmail(dot)com

Marc said...

Traveling anywhere via plane is a hassle...so many rules now.

mckelly74(at)gmail(dot)com

pixie13 said...

I don't really enjoy travel that much, but a wonderful place to visit is Nags Head, NC.

gevin13{at}gmail{dot}com

Anonymous said...

I would love to go to Ireland..someday!
shawnac68@hotmail.com

Nickolay said...

My favorite place to visit is San Diego. beautiful!

jason(at)allworldautomotive(dot)com

Melissa B. said...

I don't do much traveling, but I hope to visit Ireland in the near future.

Karrie said...

I visited Sydeny, Australia during the 2000 olympics and loved it there. Great time and lots of fun

Anonymous said...

My favrote place to visit is Kauai, Hawaii!

theyyyguy@yahoo.com

purango said...

I had a fabilous trip to Hollywood. I had limo service for the entire time. I got to shop om Rodro Drive and I met Danny Glover. Great trip. garrettsambo@aol.com

Gianna said...

I love going to Mount Rushmore.

dvice said...

My favorite place to visit is Hawaii

lilyk said...

My favorite place to visit is Los Angeles.

07violet said...

My favorite place that I've visited so far is Savannah, GA. I did travel out of the country alone when I was young but no horror stories here.

alterna7 at hotmail dot com

masonsgranny59 said...

I would like to go to disney world IN FLORIDA:)

masonsgranny59 said...

GOOGLE FRIEND FOLLOWER

Heather said...

Loved snorkeling in Guam, but did not love the ants finding me in my third story hotel room nor the fire alarm being pulled at 3 a.m. nightly.

Betty C said...

I've been fortunate enough to live and visit several countries. I was in the Panama Canal Zone for 3 1/2 years and would love to return. I loved living and visiting in Europe, especially Italy, Greece, and even spent a few days in Egypt.

Atreau said...

I love going to NYC and San Francisco. The city that I've never been to but have always wanted to go to is New Orleans. Pondering a trip there maybe this year.

fancyfeet48 said...

I would love to win this Thank You for this great giveaway fancyfeet45@earthlink.net

Anonymous said...

I loved your blog. Thank you.