Saturday, January 28, 2006

A review of "Journey Across Tibet: A Young Woman's Trek Across the Rooftop of the World"

by Sorrel Wilby

Overall, this is an interesting account of the author Sorrel Wilby’s 1900-mile trek across Tibet, circa 1986, most of it done on foot. It’s an impressive story, and worth the read for anyone with a love of adventure travel or an interest in Tibet.

I have a quibble though. I find both Wilby’s writing style and her attitude a bit irritating. It’s a little difficult to pinpoint exactly why that is, without giving away details of her story, but I’ll try.

She comes across as a somewhat shallow and flighty personality, quick to jump to conclusions and lacking in forethought of any kind; given all that, I find it remarkable that she was able to achieve what she did. It may be that she was trying to write her story in a humorous fashion, but if so, I just don’t “get” her sense of humor (contrast this with Bill Bryson’s adventure stories, which I find hilarious). She relates several circumstances in which she was so ill as to be close to death, but it never seems serious because of the way that she tells it. In the cases where she is clearly trying to be serious, she often comes across as trite and sentimental. Again this is in contrast to a book like “Touching the Void”, by Joe Simpson – a well-crafted life-and-death story without a pinch of sentimentality.

Despite those problems, the book is worth reading, because what she did is a remarkable achievement.