A Glimpse of Eternal Snows
Towering snow-covered Himalayan peaks on the cover attracted my interest initially, however after a couple of chapters I was struggling to get into this book, its content focused on pregnancy, rigours of childbirth and a handicapped newborn.
Ken Callagher - Waikato Times (NZ)
Not really my idea of a mountain adventure. The book features the Wilson-Howarth family. Jane, mother and trained paediatrician, is the author. Husband Simon works on infrastructure projects for a world aid agency. Their children are Alexander, an active pre-schooler, and newborn David, who with cleft palate and severe yet undiagnosed neurological problems, promises to turn their world upside down.
The author struggles as intuition and professional knowledge forces her to face David's degree of impairment and uncertain future. Medical colleagues add to the worries, viewing her newborn as "an interesting case", but not talking openly or honestly about his prognosis. Chapter two passes by and I am really not attached to this story, too many hospital scenes and worrisome kids.
The family then faces a choice. Stay and endure the best and worst of interventions modern medicine and surgery provide, or escape to a simple life in Nepal where another infrastructure project beckons, and enjoy the limited time they may have with their impaired son and brother.
In Nepal things are looking better. We are out of the hospital ward, and the children become just part of the story as they struggle to cope in a hot and very different environment. The author leads her family in small adventures as they sample a culture steeped in superstition, prejudice, poverty and cultural divides.
By chapter 10 I am really enjoying this book, there are no epic events - as is often the case with living in foreign cultures, it is the small things that make the interesting tales.
The real epic, however, is played out in David's slow physical and mental progress and the couple's tortured self doubt over their non-intervention strategy to hopefully provide him with a better quality of life.
The conclusion is in some ways surprising, beautifully expressed. It tells of how a family held true to a belief that quality of life mattered most, and how their Nepal experiences equipped them well to maintain that belief.
In postscript notes, the author says the script started as a travel narrative but developed into a story incorporating David's birth and struggles. She has blended his story into the travel narrative beautifully.
— NB this bloke reviewer thought this one gets better as it goes along —
This is a great read for pre-teens (or anyone young at heart) interested in Nepal, wildlife, or simply adventure! From run-ins with poachers and bears in the jungles of Bardiya, to struggling to survive in a mountain cave, to canoeing down the Karnali River, James and Alex (the protagonists) seem to find adventures wherever they go.
As an American journalist who grew up in Nepal myself, I loved the details in this book about wildlife, Nepali cultures, and politics / social problems. The book deals with a terrible time in Nepal's history - the Maoist civil war, when many ordinary people were stuck in the crossfire between rebels and the state security forces - without simplifying complex issues too much. The book's protagonists view the world from a unique vantage point as "Third Culture Kids." Wilson-Howarth, the author, shows her fondness for Nepal and Nepali people, and also demonstrates her lively imagination and story-telling ability!
How to Shit Around the World
One of the most interesting reads and had me in fits of laughter through most of it! 'm possibly one of the most hygienic people out there and yet this book still managed to open my eyes further than I could imagine! It's a must read and a book any traveller should have on their travels as it contains crucial information on symptoms, reasons and solutions.
A pleasurable read.