Thursday, September 4, 2014

Over the Counter #228

What books caught my eye this week as they crossed over the library counter and under my scanner? Travel this week, both near and far....

First up is The Fishing Fleet: Husband Hunting in the Raj by Anne De Courcy.

From the publisher, Weidenfeld and Nicholson :

"The untold stories of the young women who went out to India during the Raj in search of husbands.
From the late 19th century, when the Raj was at its height, many of Britain's best and brightest young men went out to India to work as administrators, soldiers and businessmen. With the advent of steam travel and the opening of the Suez Canal, countless young women, suffering at the lack of eligible men in Britain, followed in their wake. This amorphous band was composed of daughters returning after their English education, girls invited to stay with married sisters or friends, and yet others whose declared or undeclared goal was simply to find a husband. They were known as the Fishing Fleet, and this book is their story, hitherto untold.

For these young women, often away from home for the first time, one thing they could be sure of was a rollicking good time. By the early twentieth century, a hectic social scene was in place, with dances, parties, amateur theatricals, picnics, tennis tournaments, cinemas, gymkhanas with perhaps a tiger shoot and a glittering dinner at a raja's palace thrown in. And, with men outnumbering women by roughly four to one, romances were conducted at alarming speed and marriages were frequent. But after the honeymoon life often changed dramatically: whisked off to a remote outpost with few other Europeans for company and where constant vigilance was required to guard against disease, they found it a far cry from the social whirlwind of their first arrival.

Anne de Courcy's sparkling narrative is enriched by a wealth of first-hand sources - unpublished memoirs, letters, diaries and photographs - which bring this forgotten era vividly to life."

Next up was Travels with Lizbeth: Three Years on the Road and on the Streets by Lars Eighner.

From the publisher, St. Martin's Griffin:

"When Travels with Lizbeth was first published in 1993, it was proclaimed an instant classic. Lars Eighner’s account of his descent into homelessness and his adventures on the streets has moved, charmed, and amused generations of readers. As Lars wrote, “When I began writing this account I was living under a shower curtain in a stand of bamboo in a public park. I did not undertake to write about homelessness, but wrote what I knew, as an artist paints a still life, not because he is especially fond of fruit, but because the subject is readily at hand.” 

Containing the widely anthologized essay “On Dumpster Diving,” Travels with Lizbeth is a beautifully written account of one man's experience of homelessness, a story of physical survival, and the triumph of the artistic spirit in the face of enormous adversity. In his unique voice—dry, disciplined, poignant, comic—Eighner celebrates the companionship of his dog, Lizbeth, and recounts their ongoing struggle to survive on the streets of Austin, Texas, and hitchhiking along the highways to Southern California and back."

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my interest as it crosses over my counter at the library. But... I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

1 comment:

Mystica said...

The Fishing Fleet has been on my wishlist for ages. Thanks for this review.