I was reminded of Backpack by Emily Barr when I saw she had recently released a new book. I bought Backpack as a paperback many years ago now, a few years after its initial release (I’m thinking 2007?). When my Audible credit came up this month, it was time for a revisit.
When I first saw this book waaaaay back when I remember thinking it was chick-lit (yeah yeah judging books by their covers and all that), so probably 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 close behind, I took the plunge and bought the book.
Once I started reading it I was so glad I did. Since then, I’ve read it every few years… and the Audible experience just being the most recent. While it is categorised as “Women’s Fiction”, I feel everyone can (and should!) enjoy this.
Tansy, at the beginning of this novel, is a fairly unlikeable person. 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.
The narrator, Emma Fenney, breathes so much life into Tansy and the other characters. She has a voice that’s easy to listen to while adding the needed believability that makes you think you’re listening to the true story of someone narrating their way around Asia.
An oldie but a goodie and glad I looked past my preconceptions based on the cover. Give this one a go for sure.