Sometimes my book club friends just amaze me. Amy is today’s case in point. She chose a book that was a bit hard to find locally (not a problem on the internet) that has turned out to be a fabulous find. She chose Leila Hadley’s 1957 book, Give Me the World. It’s a travelogue extraordinare and chronicles Hadley’s post divorce trek across Asia and the Middle East with her 6 year old son. Hadley’s writing is so rich and evocative that you can truly taste, touch, see, and smell the places and people she describes.
But here’s the best part– I asked Amy why she chose a 1950’s travelogue and was surprised when she brought up comparisons to Elizabeth Gordon’s, Eat, Pray, Love. I would never have thought about that and yet as soon as she mentioned it the parallels were obvious. Both books document restless post-divorce women seeking something to help them recover their balance and sense of purpose. Some differences are obvious (Hadley is travelling with a child and it’s the 1950’s) but it made for a fascinating conversation.
Here are some of the things we talked about:
Why does Leila say she’s going to travel ‘to the Orient?’
Why does Elizabeth Gilbert think travel is the solution to her situation?
Are they in search of the same things?
What does it seem to be like to be a divorcee in the late ’50s vs. the turn of the 21st century?
What impact does Hadley’s son Kippy have on her trip?
What is Hadley’s view of men? Gilberts?
What is Hadley’s view of other cultures? Gilberts?
What is Hadley’s view of religion? Gilberts?
Is Hadley a reliable narrator of her own story? Is Gilbert? What impact does that have on how you read the book? If you’ve read about either woman before or after reading their books did that change your mind about their respective stories?
What do you think they’d say to each other if they were speaking?
Why is Hadley’s book considered a ‘classic’ travelogue?’