I was reminded of Backpack by Emily Barr when I saw she had recently released a new book. I bought Backpack many years ago now, a few years after its initial release (I’m thinking 2007?), so with a bit of digging through my cupboards I found the paperback copy and gave it a read.
When I first saw this book, I remember thinking it was chick-lit (based on judging the book by its cover), not something I’d be interested in. But after I’d read the blurb and it talked of backpacking through Asia with a murderer following her, I took the plunge and bought the book.
Once I started reading it I was so glad I did. So while it is categorised on Amazon as “Women’s Fiction”, I feel all sexes would enjoy reading this.
First, as always, the blurb:
Tansy has to escape from her London life. She’s desperate to get away from her media job, her coke habit, her dead mother and her selfish boyfriend. But she finds travelling through Asia more smelly than romantic and, besides, she’s missing her boyfriend. However, she is determined not to give in, give up or go home. As she travels further east she begins to enjoy her journey – until murder starts to follow her and the trip becomes much more adventurous than she had anticipated.
Tansy, in the beginning of this novel, is fairly unlikeable. Her mother has just died, and she’s hard drinking / hard drugging herself to forget about it. Convinced to take some time off from her life and go travelling with her boyfriend, she books a backpacking trip through Asia. Her boyfriend pulls out at the last minute and she’s forced to travel alone.
She arrives with impractical clothing and despising everyone, especially the backpackers who she believes herself to be above. Of course along the way she meets many interesting people who she begins to trust and love. As the novel progresses, news of murdered backpackers that look a lot like Tansy are showing up dead, in places she has visited. Of course she becomes less of a douche along the way, and embraces the backpacking way of life.
So part mystery / suspense, part self-discovery, part comedy, this novel deftly blends all three together into a thoroughly enjoyable read. The descriptions of life on the road as a backpacker and of the places and people Tansy meets along the way are immersive, obviously written by someone who has travelled the circuit.
An oldie (15+ years now) but a goodie and glad I looked past my preconceptions based on the cover.