Brilliant reads – Books by Bailey & Wren

The lost German Slave girl - By John Bailey
What a fascinating book this is. It tells you the strange story of a slave girl who lived around New Orleans, the real story of a young Sally Miller who left Germany with her parents bound for better luck in America, during the black days of the second decade of the 19th century.

In 1812, the volcano on St Vincent Island in the West Indies erupted. Following that we had the massive eruption of another volcano Mt Mayon in Philippines in 1814. In 1815, Mt Tambora in Indonesia erupted. All these eruptions cast tons of dust into the atmosphere, the sunlight reaching earth was diffused and the earth cooled. With disrupted weather patterns, crops failed in China and famine enveloped Bengal. By 1816, the effects were felt in Europe. It was a year without a summer. Germany had heavy rains, sleet & hail resulting in failed crops. There was no food to eat. The populace was desperate. The Miller family was one of the devastated families in transition. Like many others, they had decided to immigrate to America. After a terrible period in Amsterdam, when nefarious body shoppers, slave traders and ship owners harassed them, the family reached the eastern shores of USA. They landed, not as free people, but as slaves, for that was the cost of the voyage by ship to America. Soon the family was torn apart, taken by different buyers and they all met different fates. One of them, the young girl Sally Miller vanished.

Many years later, in 1843, she was noticed by a German lady who had also traveled by the same ship to USA. She recognized Sally and then started the long and terrible legal rigmarole, the process of arguing her plight in the courts. The end comes in the last line of the book and the author holds you spellbound until that final paragraph.

A beautifully narrated and remarkable story, I read it in one go during a flight that was delayed with problems to the nose wheel strut and other landing gear…

The book was intensely enjoyable, taut & suspenseful, and I wrote to the author informing of my deep appreciation for the same. John Bailey replied thus “Writing is a lonely business and hard work, so it is nice at the end of it all to hear from people who have read my efforts. Hope your flight ended safely”….A nice man, a nice book and something I now treasure in my library.

You can order this book online

John Bailey is an Australian author with five books to his credit. Bailey enjoyed a varied career, from being a public servant in New Guinea, a teacher in England and a barrister in Melbourne and is now a full time writer. His latest book, Mr Stuart’s Track 2006 (Macmillan), reveals the forgotten life of John McDouall Stuart, the first explorer to cross Australia from coast to coast.

Read here an interview with Bailey

The Cat Who Covered The World
The Adventures Of Henrietta And Her Foreign Correspondent - By Christopher S Wren

This one was discovered by chance. I was in the history section of our local library pondering over some books about the intrepid traveler Ibn Batuta. Then I realized that it was actually an extension of the history section, covering geography and travel and that there were travel books on all kinds of places. Nestling between some heavy volumes on travel to China and Europe was this thin book. I wondered how it reached there. Probably some volunteer student thought that the book was about travel and snuck it in there.

It is an offbeat book written by an expatriate traveler, and I took to it immediately. For I had been in the very same boat for so many years, living as an expatriate in Saudi, Turkey, US and UK. Of course now we are somewhat settled, but it brought fond memories of that special lifestyle understood only by another expatriate. I mean, would you understand if I told you that we packed kilos of green chillies, coriander leaves & curry leaves, and froze them for a whole year while at Turkey? Taking wee bits sparingly, now and then, for cooking? But that was another world, another time.

So this one is about the travels of Chris Wren and of course the central character in the story is his cat, Henrietta.I will just quote here from the Amazon review

Christopher Wren belonged to Henrietta the cat, and Christopher Wren travels far and wide in his work as a foreign news correspondent. Of course Henrietta insisted on being brought along to Moscow, Paris, Beijing, Tokyo, and all the other cities the Wrens visited. And of course Henrietta got into all sorts of scrapes - cats can cause enough trouble right in their own living rooms! The Cat Who Covered the World is a tremendously entertaining memoir and travelogue, covering 17 years in the life of a busy cat and her accommodating family. Wherever she went, she charmed, and tales of flight attendants bestowing free portions of salmon mousse and Italian taxi drivers blowing kisses into her cage while ignoring the traffic are intertwined with more typical cat stories of sudden escapes into fields, food stealing, and incessant yowling at inappropriate times….

Another ‘must read’, especially for those who love cats and even for those who do not, like me.

You can order this book online

Christopher S Wren, as well as working overseas for the New York Times for seventeen years, also served as a foreign correspondent in Vietnam and has since reported on half a dozen other conflicts, most recently in Bosnia. He has won an Overseas Press Club Award and is the author of five previous books and now lives in New York with his wife and the successors to Henrietta.


Pradeep said...

Had read about John Bailey somewhere. Don't remember if it was about this book. Shall check out if it's available here. Want to read it.

Cynic in Wonderland said...

if you like that genre, one book you could read is a woman in berlin - the german perspective after the war is lost. reasonably interesting.

harimohan said...

it is great to get back replies from authors
tks for letting me know of two good authors
when is your travelogue coming out ?
you have more than enough matiereal

Destination Infinity said...

Both the books look interesting. Especially the second. I always thought cats were intelligent!

Destination Infinity

Maddy said...

Thanks pradeep, cynic. I will try & get the book you mentioned.

hari - travelogue is not in the present plans at all - no time to even keep these two blogs current. but it is not too far away...

DI - you will like the second book, that i can assure you...

Happy Kitten said...

Since I love cats..(they have a mind of their own and some call them selfish!) let me look for the 2nd one first..

Hope u will give us more reviews from your great library..