Travel Book Reviews

Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts

Anyone who knows me will know India fascinates me.  My children bought me this book for Christmas.  It’s over 900 pages long, so I knew I’d need time to read it!

Shantaram is an epic novel that leads you on a captivating journey through Mumbai’s streets. The book is a semi-autobiography.  Roberts includes his one experiences in India after escaping from an Australian prison.

The novel follows the protagonist, Lin, as he navigates Mumbai’s colourful and chaotic world. Lin is a flawed but a surprisingly likeable character.

His relationships with the various people he meets on his journey are a highlight of the book.  Every character is well-crafted and memorable.

But two relationships stand out.  First, he has a tumultuous friendship with the charismatic but dangerous Prabaker.  And second, his romantic entanglements with the beautiful Karla.

Roberts’ writing is lyrical and poetic.  He used vivid descriptions that bring Mumbai to life on the page. His love for the city and its people shine through in every chapter.  His deep understanding of Indian culture and customs is evident throughout the book.

Despite the plot sometimes meandering, Roberts’ writing is highly engaging.  His descriptions of Mumbai are vivid and poetic.  You’ll quickly become immersed in his story and forgot about the length.

The book is an adventure with moments of intense action and heart-wrenching emotion.

Overall, Shantaram is a beautiful and powerful novel that is not to be missed. It’s a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. Shantaram is a long but powerful novel that celebrates India and her people’s beauty and complexity.

Are you looking for a book that will transport you to another world?  Shantaram will leave you thinking long after you’ve turned the last page.

Spain by the Horns – Tim Elliott

The title and cover intrigued me.  I worked in Madrid a few years ago and went to a bullfight at La Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas.  I’m not sure if I’d go again!

“Spain by the Horns” is an absorbing memoir by Tim Elliott, a British journalist.  He recounts his experience of relocating to Spain and immersing himself in the country’s vibrant culture.

Elliott’s story begins with a compelling depiction of his arrival in Madrid.  He instantly becomes swept up in the city’s frenzied pace of life. Over time, he appreciates the beauty of the Spanish language, flamenco.  And he becomes absorbed in the passion for soccer that unites the nation.

Elliott explores Spain’s diverse regions, from the sun-drenched coasts of Andalusia to the windswept hills of Galicia.  He encounters a cast of colourful characters.  Each one helps him gain a deeper understanding of the country’s rich history and traditions.

He grapples with the challenges of adapting to a new way of life.  Elliott navigates the bureaucracy of Spanish government to learning how to savour a leisurely meal.

Elliott’s writing is evocative and engaging.  He draws readers into the vivid sensory experiences of Spain. Through his personal anecdotes, he draws the reader into the vivid sensory experiences of Spain.  Elliott offers a nuanced portrait of a complex and fascinating country.

One of “Spain by the Horns” most striking aspects is Elliott’s deep admiration for the Spanish people.  He describes them as warm, generous, and fiercely proud of their heritage. Through his encounters with Spaniards from all walks of life, he develops deep affection for the country and its people.

“Spain by the Horns” is highly enjoyable.  It’s an insightful read for anyone interested in Spanish culture, history, or travel.

Elliott’s passion for Spain is contagious.  His memoir serves as a powerful reminder of the joys and challenges of exploring a new place.  And of immersing oneself in a different way of life.

India in Slow Motion – Mark Tully

“India in Slow Motion” is thought-provoking and insightful.  It offers a unique perspective on India’s social, political, and cultural landscape.

Tully, a renowned journalist and former BBC Bureau Chief in Delhi, draws upon his time in India.  He provides a nuanced, balanced analysis of India’s progress and challenges.

Each of the book’s ten chapters focuses on a specific theme or issue. Tully examines the impact of globalisation on India’s economy and society.  He covers the growing divide between rich and poor, persistence of corruption.  Tully discusses the rise of Hindus love of their country.  He even finds space to discuss the challenges facing India’s democracy.

One of the book’s strengths is how Tully’s weaves together personal anecdotes.  Interviews with ordinary Indians help illustrate many of his arguments.

He shares stories of farmers struggling to make ends meet.  Likewise, he discusses women fighting for their rights, and activists striving to promote social justice. Through these stories, Tully brings to life modern India’s complexities and contradictions.

Tully acknowledges India’s impressive economic growth and technological advancements.  But also recognises the country’s deep-seated social and political problems. Nonetheless, these two factors coexist in India.

He offers constructive criticism.  But also suggests how India can address these issues to realise its full potential.

Overall, Tully’s insights are illuminating and thought-provoking.  In summary, “India in Slow Motion” is engaging.  It’s an excellent choice for anyone interested in understanding modern India.

It doesn’t matter if you are a scholar, journalist, or a curious reader.  Overall, the book will deepen your understanding of India.