RaveThe Times Literary SupplementIt’s no comedy, but there are moments of humour throughout ... It’s a deeply affecting account, and never mawkish. Nor is there any nonsense about the heroism of suffering. Marilyn does not achieve a stoical acceptance of death. Despair predominates ... The book that he has written for her, like his life now, might be a ghost story of sorts, but the ghost that haunts him is not an unhappy one, and will never leave him.
PositiveThe Times Literary Supplement (UK)Himālaya has a vast reach, both geographically and temporally ... [Keay\'s] focus is constantly shifting ... Keay gives notice at the outset that what follows might be challenging for some readers, though not all ... The leaping begins in the opening pages ... Vivid evocation ... Concisely analyzed ... Indicative of the scope of his reading ... Knowledge is sometimes transmitted in prose that carries slightly too heavy a burden of information ... There are moments when a little more topicality would not have gone amiss.
RaveTimes Literary Supplement (UK)[Vanhoenacker\'s] intricately structured text offers several episodes that present us with memorable images of the world as experienced from the cockpit ... Vanhoenacker is exceptionally well travelled, and an exceptionally curious and widely read observer ... With a lesser writer, the result might have been miscellaneous and superficial, but the connections Vanhoenacker makes are not trivial. His visits may be of limited duration, but he doesn’t waste an hour, and with every return his engagement with each city deepens. A superb section on Delhi demonstrates his range ... The Malacca episode exemplifies Vanhoenacker’s excursiveness, as he swoops from city to city, enriching his material with each landing ... Almost every locale is a source of delight. The less entrancing aspects of the real do not often intrude ... this is an autobiography as much as a travelogue. And the foundation of his self-examination is his home city, Pittsfield, Massachusetts. It’s a lens through which he sees the world, and to which his writing returns again and again – perhaps a little too often. Sometimes the voltage drops when he takes us back to Massachusetts. The image of home stands behind the immense imaginary city that is an amalgamation of all the cities he has seen, but not even a writer of Vanhoenacker’s skill can elevate Pittsfield, in the minds of his readers, to the order of his Tokyo, or Uppsala, or Jeddah.
RaveTimes Literary Supplement (UK)Thubron undertook to explore the entire length [of the Amur], and it’s an extraordinary journey, albeit one with very little sunlight of any kind along the way ... The Amur might be an immense via dolorosa, but The Amur River is never monotonous. Almost every town along the river is grim, but Thubron gives us many distinct shades of grimness. People are characterized crisply, with great sympathy, except in the most intractably unsympathetic cases. Landscapes are always evoked with great precision and economy—Thubron never goes in for vague atmospherics. He writes brilliantly about the region’s wildlife and folklore, and there are moments of humour to leaven the atmosphere ... Historical episodes enrich the travelogue at perfectly calibrated intervals, and he ranges widely, all the way back to the ancient nomadic people who might have been the ancestors of the Huns ... Inevitably, though, The Amur River ends in melancholy ... One can only marvel that he completed his journey, and be thankful that this marvellous book came out of it.