Mud and Stars – Sara Wheeler

Mud and Stars - Sara Wheeler
Mud and Stars – Sara Wheeler

Mud and Stars combines Sara Wheeler’s periodic travels in and around various parts of the former Soviet Union with chapter-size biographies of some of Russia’s literary greats plus summaries of their major work(s).

She also makes interesting detours into the worlds of translation and her London-based adventures in learning the Russian language, culture and cuisine.

A good book for insights into modern Russia, and the great playwrights, poets and novelists of the 19th and 20th century – about whom I know (knew) next to nothing.

Publisher page: Mud and Stars – Sara Wheeler

Chile: Travels in a Thin Country – Sara Wheeler

Chile: Travels In A Thin Country - Sara Wheeler
Chile: Travels In A Thin Country – Sara Wheeler

I don’t know why I sometimes hesitate over reading Sara Wheeler’s travelogues – I always love them.

In Chile: Travels in a Thin Country, we see South America’s thin country from top to bottom (and back up again to Santiago) in the company of 30/31 year old Sara and a collection of Chilean and gringo men (and a scattering if wives and girlfriends), from all walks of life – ex pat and nuns, truckers and policemen, academics and backpackers, Central Valley descendants of conquistadors and descendants of dispossessed Indian tribes.


Publisher’s webpage: Chile: Travels in a Thin Country – Sara Wheeler

Oh My America! – Sara Wheeler

Approaching 50, Sara Wheeler followed in the footsteps of 6 English women when went to America over the course of the 19th century – decades which saw the United States’ Frontier lurch relentlessly across a continent and, in time, the railway connect the coasts.

Some stayed, others were visitors / travellers / tourists. All wrote about their experiences of the New World, and the new lives they found they embarked on there.

The cast

1827 – Fanny Trollope, whose husband’s “financial misfortune” forced her family to seek a new life in the New World. After five years mainly in the frontier town of Cincinnati, the family, still in financial straits, returned to England where she wrote about her experiences in Domestic Manners of the Americans. The book proved a money spinner and a succès de scandale.

1832 – Fanny Kemble, an acclaimed London actress whose marriage to an American plantation owner proved unhappy, as she struggled with the reality of being a slaver-owner’s wife in Georgia. Separated and subsequently divorced in 1849, Fanny Kemble returned to the stage and to London society.

1834 – Harriet Martineau, who stayed with a former president on her visit to Massachusetts, and wrote up her assessment of America from a social, political and economic perspective.

1831 – Rebecca Burlend, an improverished tenant farmer’s wife who sought a better life in the New World. A fascinating first hand account of a settler’s life in Illinois.

1873 – Isabella Bird – an intrepid Victorian Lady Traveller, whose health took a turn for the worse every time she had to return “home”, and whose friendship with “Rocky Mountain Jim” would not have been possible “at home”.

1870 – Catherine Hubback, a novelist like her aunt, Jane Austen, who emigrated to California a year after the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad.

Publisher’s page: Oh My America!: Second Acts in a New World – Sara Wheeler