30 September 2013

How To Climb Mont Blanc In A Skirt

Author: Mick Conefrey
Year published: 2011
Pages: 224
Time It Took To Read: Two days, but it's light and easy

I am an armchair traveller. The thought of being trapped in the Himalayas in winter with nought but a donkey and a six year old for company makes me want to weep, but give me a book with the same (Where The Indus Is Young by Dervla Murphy)and I'll devour it. My personal travelling has taken me to er, most of England, North Wales, Scotland (just), Benidorm,Verdun and Reims. But through the power of books, I've been all over the world. Travel was my first book obsession. I think I must've got out every book the library had when I was 16 or so, and I have a huge collection of books.

This book charts the history of the female traveller, largely before the feminist movement, when a woman travelling at all was considered inappropriate. The book, which is in the humour section on Amazon, explains how male adventurers hates women trespassing into their territory, even deliberately sabotaging female attempts to climb mountains. It covers women who have travelled disguised as men, or as natives, and those who have been sexually assaulted or threatened for travelling without disguise.
I got a bit fed up of the "LOL! WIMMIN TRAVELLING? WOTEVER NEXT!" attitude in places, but some of the stories are amazing. One woman, a doctor in the Antarctic, administered her own chemotherapy when dying of breast cancer. There are stories of tragedy, bereavement and injury mixed in with tales of silliness and invention.There's also a good segment on pioneers in female aviation and solo sailing.
All in all, a pretty good read, with plenty of references to other material if you're particularly interested in the field of female travel.

Book count: 43/50

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