Sunday, 11 September 2016

Daughter Of The Desert by Georgina Howell

Daughter of the Desert: The Remarkable Life of Gertrude Bell by Georgina Howell
First published by Macmillan in August 2006

How I got this book:
Borrowed from my partner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Our friends, Andy and Barbara, bought Dave a copy of Daughter Of The Desert for his birthday and I am a little embarrassed that it took me ten months to get around to reading this biography of the amazing woman who was Gertrude Bell. Especially as Dave was singing its praises months ago.

Gertrude Bell lived several lives within one! In her mountain climbing 'phase', she outclimbed practically every one else in the Alps and there is still a peak named after her. Once she set her sights on Arabia, she completed months of nomadic journeys at the head of an effectively royal train of horses, camels and men, publishing several books of her journeys. (The most famous of these, The Desert And The Sown, is now on my Goodreads TBR list!) She dabbled, to a professional standard, in archaeology, taught herself cartography, created a national museum in Baghdad, and was one of the main driving forces pushing for Arabic self-rule in what became Iraq, Jordan and Syria. It sounds breathtaking in brief and Georgina Howell manages to keep the excitement simmering through most of the many pages of her biography. Howell understands Bell completely and has obviously spent a huge amount of time immersed in her published writing and private letters in order to produce such a well-rounded portrait. I loved the inclusion of sections of Bell's own words in a distinctive font. This device was effective and helped to maintain pace in a way that paraphrasing would have thwarted. I admit I did begin to flag during the intense politics of the post-Great War years, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed reading this biography.

Etsy Find!
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Books by Georgina Howell / Biographies / Books from England

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