It was a blustery April morning on the Thames Embankment in London when Anne Mustoe set out on a phenomenal lone cycle ride - to the original site of Cleopatra's Needle at Heliopolis in Egypt. Leaving behind home comforts, she set herself the challenge of travelling close to water wherever possible - via the Seine and the Rhone, then alongside the Burgundy canal, the Po and the Venetian Lagoon. Before she would reach her final waterway - the evocative Nile - Ms Mustoe would encounter the dusty yet beguiling Near East: Turkey, Syria, the Lebanon and finally Egypt itself. Anne Mustoe weaves a story of exquisite detail laced with the understated humour that has become her hallmark.
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(194mm x 130mm x 17mm)
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
This latest travel memoir by feisty pensioner Anne Mustoe sees her embarking on a cycle journey from London to Cairo, inspired by the Thames-side obelisk. Cleopatra's Needle was transported from Egypt by water so Mustoe plans her route around watercourses. Her travels encompass spectacular scenery and many historical landmarks. The links between Mustoe, Cleopatra and water are tenuous but still provide the spur for an ambitious trip. Cyclists will enjoy her account of conquering the Nufenen Pass over the Alps, and sympathize with her death-defying motorway experiences. Mustoe tries to convey the diversity of the countries through which she passes; she is particularly successful in this when following the Seine. Her enthusiasm for Italy is also infectious: she brings to life the warmth of its restaurateurs, hoteliers and traders. More seriously, Mustoe travels through the Middle East in the immediate aftermath of 11 September. She conveys her anxieties with economy and sensitivity, and sees first-hand the chasm between media rhetoric and the calm, informed response of ordinary Muslims. This sensitivity is less apparent elsewhere in the book. Mustoe makes some surprising generalizations: she declares Greece to be arrogant and unfriendly; long-suffering Lebanon is dismissed as a 'spoilt child'; veiled Muslim women are reduced to 'black wigwams'. Also unfortunate is Mustoe's tendency to complain. Her journey coincides with Europe's wettest year on record, and Mustoe's frequent laments about what she can't see or can't do because of the weather begin to grate after a while. It is easier to sympathize with her other concerns: she suffers terrible isolation in the Middle East as few will speak to a lone woman. Despite its occasional infelicities, this is an enjoyable account of an impressive journey. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Anne Mustoe
Anne Mustoe read classics at Cambridge and was the headmistress of a girls' school in Suffolk until 1987, when she left her job and embarked on her first solo journey around the world by bicycle. She is an established travel writer with a substantial following who lectures regularly on her adventures.