Race to Tibet by Sophie Schiller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
My earliest memory of Tibet is probably reading Tintin in Tibet and years later I saw Seven Years in Tibet. So when I saw this book I just knew that I had to read it. Tibet is a country that iI find fascinating and I would love to visit it someday. But for now, I will be content my reading books about it.
The French explorer Gabriel Bonvalot sets as a goal in this book to be the first European person to visit Lhasa, the forbidden city in Tibet. Traveling with Bonvalot is also Prince Henri d'Orléans, whose father wants him gone from the country for a year since Henri has once again got his name in the newspaper, in a bad way. Along the way, Camille Dancourt joins the group. She is traveling to Tibet to search for her husband who went missing there. Bonvalot didn't want her to travel with them from the beginning, but she was quite determined to go there with or without him. So in the end, he yields. This will be an adventurous journey, filled with dangerous but also memorable encounters and experiences.
One thing that I thought about reading this book that I really never thought so much about before (I think) is how obnoxious we Europeans are when it comes to other people that have a different culture than we have. I feel that Bonvalot journey is very much like a small invasion of Tibet. Bonvalot wants to be the first European to visit Lhasa no matter what the people in Tibet feel about it and he will do anything to get there, for instance bribing people. Also, no one was willing to sell a horse to them so they stole one. How wrong isn't that? But they were quite desperate, it's a hard country and no matter how prepared they were, it still didn't go so well. But I still felt quite often that forcing their way into the country was wrong.
Sophie Schiller has written an interesting book. Even though I sometimes felt annoyance with the Europeans superior attitude I still wanted to know if they would get to Lhasa and would Camille find her husband?
The only drawback for me was that even though the book was good it wasn't a great read. There was something missing for me. It can be that I really didn't connect with the characters. But I liked reading it and I would recommend it.