This is a lovely story. The main protagonist, Sonia, is a 34 year old divorced woman with low self esteem and a host of health issues. On a whim, and with her doctor’s encouragement, Sonia leaves her life in Cambridge with all its painful associations, and travels out to Nepal to work for a charity - and with the vague idea of retracing her great-grandfather’s footsteps.
Rosemary Hayes, author
After a rocky start, full of frustrations and misunderstandings, she gradually loses her English reserve and expectations and adapts to – and respects – the rhythm of life on the island of Rajapur, comes to care for the low caste family with whom she is staying and embrace their simple way of life.
The author spent many years in Nepal – and it shows. She writes with an absolute assurance – and passion - about the people, the landscape and the flora and fauna of the country. Indeed, her descriptions are so vivid that the reader can almost smell the food, taste the sweet tea, see the vast yellow butterflies and the wonderfully colourful plants and exotic animals, breathe the mountain air and hear the hustle and bustle of the market.
The story is told from a variety of viewpoints and, in this way, we have insight not only into what Sonia thinks of the people she meets but also what they think of her and how strange they find some of her attitudes and reactions. Because of the author’s in depth knowledge of the country, she is also able to explain the intricacies of the caste system and its implications, - for instance, the shock of her Brahmin (high caste) friends when she insists that young Moti, the daughter of her Tharu (low caste) hosts, is her companion when she goes trekking.
And it is when she and Moti are on their trek that disaster strikes the island. Ironically it is the disaster which is Sonia’s saviour. Working with the wounded, snatching food and sleep when she can, she recognizes how trivial her own worries are when compared to the plight of those she treats. And finally, too, she feels valued and regains her self respect.
When she returns to England and her old life, she is a very different person.
This is a story of a complex, shattered woman and of the healing power of love as of the whole community finally recognize her true worth and no longer see her as an awkward foreigner with strange ideas but as a strong, compassionate woman who is prepared to work tirelessly to help them.
A very readable and uplifting story, set in a beautifully described landscape.
I’m betting that no other book combines a story about Nepal with an eco-friendly message. Although the story is meant for early to mid-readers, this adult thoroughly enjoyed it. Right from the start, I felt that I got to know the two brothers on an intimate level – their dialogue makes you smile and pulls you into getting to know them well. The animals of Nepal play a role throughout the story … readers won’t even realize how much new knowledge about Nepal they are absorbing as they read. Toward the end, I found myself reading as fast as I could to find out what happened
Patty Costello, children's author
What makes this adventure story unique is the author's first hand and in depth knowledge of the flora and fauna of Nepal. The descriptions of both are so vivid that you feel you are really there, with the two brothers, Alex and James, as they desperately follow the trail of their kidnapped parents, facing life-threatening danger along the way.
In this second of the Alex and James adventures the story begins with the boys and their parents imprisoned by Maoists in Nepal, in filthy conditions. As they are being moved to a remote hideout, the boys escape and, with their friend Bim, they try to follow their parents, hoping to free them. This is a journey fraught with danger not only from the angry Maoists but also from wild animals and hostile conditions. Wonderfully accurate black and while illustrations by Betty Levene bring the story (and the animals) to life for the reader.