Thursday, November 08, 2007

An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude - Ann Vanderhoof

The Basics: An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude, Ann Vanderhoof, 2003, 305 pages, hard cover

How I found it: It was recommended on the lotus reads blog and since I like food and travel writing, it sounded like a good book.

What's it about?: Vanderhoof and her husband were typical Torontoians caught up in the bustle and deadlines of their jobs - in magazine publishing in their case. As amateur sailors, they decided to save up some money and take a couple years off to sail down to the Caribbean. This book chronicles their two year sojourn. Vanderhoof is an unabashed foodie so the book is filled with their culinary adventures in local cuisine, as well as her own recipes for replicating their meals.

Did I like it?: The beauty of this book is that Vanderhoof and her husband are just regular people with regular lives living out a dream that many of us have had. While I don't particularly enjoy boats, the idea of sailing around the Caribbean for a couple years does sound quite enticing. Vanderhoof has experience writing and it shows - what could have otherwise been just another travel book ends up being something a bit out of the ordinary. I enjoyed this book and read it in only a few days.

Will you like it?: If you've ever dreamed of just packing up and sailing away, this is a great book to read since Vanderhoof paints a great picture of the highs and lows of long distance sailing. She also makes a point of exploring and embracing the local culture, especially the food, in the places she visits and this book will tell you a lot about the Caribbean that you won't find in the tourist brochures.

But don't take my word for it: The usual industry blurbs and reader reviews from amazon, a review from Pop Matters, one from the Boston Globe, another from the book blog curled up, and the blog post from lotus reads that led to me to read the book in the first place.

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