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Mad Dogs and an Englishwoman: Travels with Sled Dogs in Canada's Frozen North [Kindle Edition]

Polly Evans
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.00
Kindle Price: $7.99
You Save: $6.01 (43%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Polly Evans had a mission: to learn everything possible about the howling, tail-wagging world of sled dogs. Fool’s errand? Or the adventure of a lifetime? The intrepid world traveler was about to find out.

In the dead of winter, Polly Evans ventured to Canada’s far northwest, where temperatures plunge to minus forty and the sun rises for just a few hours each day. But though she was prepared for the cold, she never anticipated how profoundly she’d be affected by that blissful and austere place. In a pristine landscape patrolled by wolves and caribou, the wannabe musher was soon learning the ropes of arctic dogsledding, careening across the silent tundra with her own team of yapping, leaping canines.

Shivering but undaunted, Polly follows the tracks of the legendary Yukon Quest, a dogsledding race more arduous than the Iditarod, witnessing a life-and-death spectacle she’ll never forget. Along the way she makes a stop at the Santa Clause house in North Pole, Alaska (where the post office delivers unstamped mail), and witnesses the astonishing northern lights weaving green and red across the sky. And before the snows melt in spring, Polly will have discovered a deep affection for the loving, mischievous huskies whose courage and enthusiasm escort her through the delights and dangers of living life at the extreme—in one of the most forbidding places on earth.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Evans excels at “stranger in a strange land” travel writing, and readers looking for a light version of Bill Bryson will enjoy her intimate look at the inner workings of one of the most professional sled-dog kennels in the sport. She spent 11 weeks with Yukon Quest winner Frank Turner as his son entered the annual race between Fairbanks, Alaska, and Whitehorse, Canada, for the first time. Evans does everything from cleaning up after the dogs to joining the support crew for Saul Turner’s team. She gamely drives her own sled and camps out in extreme temperatures. Her vivid account is peppered with brief histories of the towns she visits and the locals she meeets, most notably in historic Dawson City. Alaskans will find her dismissive comments about their state condescending, however, and her suggestion that there is no accessible grocery store in Fairbanks borders on the bizarre. Otherwise, armchair explorers will find much of interest, from striking descriptions of howling dogs to Frank Turner’s expertise. --Colleen Mondor


“Unlike that terrifying breed of die-hard travel writers, Polly Evans is one of us.…Refreshing.” Sunday Times Travel, UK

“Evans excels at ‘stranger in a strange land’ travel writing ... armchair explorers will find much of interest.” —Booklist

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 493 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Delta (January 27, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001RS8L50
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #215,193 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kinda of boring... July 28, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Polly Evans ventured to Canada, and some parts of Alaska, prepared to learn about dog sledding. Not only does she learn about dog sledding, but she even helps in the legendary Yukon Quest. The cold, the dogs, the snow, all things she had to learn to deal with, one day at a time.
Not really very interesting. She seems as helpless as ever, which is kind of sad. For example, in Fairbanks she can't even find a piece of fruit and a bag of tea. Yet she was at the Westmark Hotel in Fairbanks. The Westmark Hotel has one of those tourist shops. They have bananas! And I am sure they have a pile of tea of all kinds. I know, I was there in MAY! Saying Fairbanks did not have a grocery store is like saying that the ocean does not have sharks because none of them attacked you the last time you took a dip.
But besides insulting the State of Alaska, and talking a lot about dog poop and complaining about how cold she was, the book is a tad boring. True, she does add a lot of the history but that could have been found in any history books of the cold, icy north. In the end, it feels like she was tired and didn't really wish to write this book. Just not as interesting as her book on China. Maybe being a useless tourist is only funny the first time? I hope her book on Spain is better.
Oh, and I have no problem with her getting mad at the people who run the borders - I have problems with them too.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another fun read from Polly Evans December 4, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Most of us will probably never see - never mind participate in! - a sled dog race. But Evans dives into the Arctic adventure that is life with sled dogs, showing how much love and care goes into raising - and racing them. If you have any interest in the subject, you'll enjoy this book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as her other books... October 22, 2011
Prior to this book, I read several of Polly Evans' other books, and they were quite entertaining. I just didn't get the same feeling from this one. It seemed like most of the book was about mundane things repeated over and over. "I scooped dog poop." "I fell off my sled for the 10th time." "It was REALLY cold." And the part of the book where she actually follows the Yukon Quest was definitely a let-down. I'm sure Alaska and the Yukon are very beautiful and interesting places, but I just didn't get the attraction of the area from what Polly has written.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Funny March 19, 2009
The title of Polly Evans's book is, of course, a twist on the Noel Coward song "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" (they "go out in the midday sun"). In Polly's memoire, mad dogs and an English WOMAN go out in the midNIGHT sun.

And the Northern Lights, and endless snowfields and forests, and iced roads and thawing rivers, and weird and wonderful people and DOGS, all of which she describes with grace and generosity and, occasionally, outright eloquence, in just those spots where it's called for.

Generally, when I review a non-fiction book, I address things like bibliographies, indices, and charts. This personal memoire doesn't call for them, but it does need a better map of the area. The tracing of the Quest dogsled race route gives no idea how the author got from point to point on it by road: we need roads to follow the routes vehicles took and trailmaps to follow the snowmobiles, and there are many features she cites that are not located.

But her story is terribly trenchant. I was born in England and raised in Montreal, and experienced the kind of culture (or climate) shock Canada presents to the unititiated; in Evans's book, you can experience it too.
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