The author unveils not the fearless wanderer whose mappings and 30 books brought Stark awards from the likes of the Royal Geographical Society and made her a darling of British society. Instead Stark is seen as humble, insecure, and forever caught in the role of perpetual alien--be it when the English-born child grows up in Italy, where her mother lives in scandal, or when she plunges alone into the East, a feat never before accomplished by a Westerner.
An unwilling iconoclast whose love of travel, she would say, began as an infant when her father carried her in a basket over the Dolomites, Stark longed for the social security of the times: marriage and children. Proposals fell through, on occasion her beloved was married, or the romantic emotions she felt went unrequited--and besides, as a friend later pointed out, marriage would have spoiled her with its confinements. Rising above depression, self-imposed ostracism, and her numerous illnesses, Stark learned Arabic and how to climb mountains, map, partake in geographical digs, and find a niche in strange cultures.
Initially ridiculed for her passionate fondness of the Middle East, her writings ultimately generated vast interest for that mysterious part of the world, where she was surprisingly embraced, made privy to political movements closed to most foreigners, and even shown precious Islamic documents. At times a nurse, a war correspondent, a negotiator, Stark was a one-woman revolution of her time. Geniesse's intoxicating documentation of her life not only serves to stir up new interest in Stark's many books; it also ensures that the name Freya Stark will live on long after her obituary is but a scrap of yellowed, crackling newsprint. --Melissa Rossi --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
It was such a pleasure reading about this grand dame.
This book has taught me a great deal more about Freya Stark, the Middle East and modern European history, but I seem to have no bruises to show for it!
The author has done a wonderful job of presenting the life of this fascinating woman in the context of the times.
This book dragged a bit here and there where there was too much attention to the heroine's many illnesses during her travels. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Kindle Customer
Very interesting woman. Learned so much about the Middle East.Published 5 months ago by Avid reader
I didn't know anything about Freya Stark before reading this book. It is long and a bit difficult but she was such an amazing and brave adventuress that I always looked forward to... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Marilyn Frank
It is wonderful to read from the journals of people who were truly adventurers. Books like these should be part of the requirements for history classes.Published 8 months ago by Christine Rapoza
Absolutely fascinating. Was most impressed with the expertise in researching this book - a big contribution to the history of the Middle East..Published 11 months ago by Doris M. Leroy
I ordered this a while ago and am still reading it - great read - what a life she hadPublished 13 months ago by johnphotographer
Not an easy read and the story line takes too long to develop. Didn't find the book to be interesting.Published 15 months ago by Shushan Antonyan