Passionate Nomad

img_4236Geniesse, Jane Fletcher. Passionate Nomad: The Life of Freya Stark. New York: Modern Library, 2001.

This has been hanging around the house for over a year now. I had no idea it was even on “the list” until now. Someone gave me a copy with the recommendation, “read it. It’s good. You’ll like it.” Okay. So, in honor of National Travel Month I put Freya on the list (as soon as I found out it was even on the list).

Freya Stark was an amazing woman. Not because she explored uncharted territories. Not because she dared to go where even the bravest of men hadn’t. Not because she had no regard for her own well being. Not even because she was an expert Arabist. She was an amazing woman because she dared, period. We hear about the glass ceiling and what women even today are tolerating. Freya faced all that and more.
Geniesse weaves a convincing autobiography of Freya Stark using letters to and from Freya, journals, interviews, but mostly from Freya’s own library of books written about her experiences. Freya was a prolific writer and so Geniesse had plenty of material to draw from. The final product is a fascinating account of one woman’s rise to recognition through exploration and encourage, especially during one of the most volatile times of our history – World War II.

A few favorite passages:
“One suspects that all her life Freya carried some degree of rage…” (p 23).
“A telegram from Freya requesting that a tin bath be shipped into the interior of Yemen was not unusual” (p 156). You go girl!
“Wherever she went to find solitude on this great, empty earth, from nowhere emerged some form of life, human or otherwise, to share the loneliness” (p 217).
“in the middle of the night she was awakened by the tinkling of a music box being played close to her ear” (p 250).

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter, “Lady Travelers” (p 143). I am excited to think I will be reading some of Freya’s own works (eventually), – from this same chapter. Maybe next year.



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