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Women of The Gobi: Journeys on the Silk Road

Women of the Gobi
Journeys on the Silk Road

Kate James

REVIEW: Eureka Street

"Kate James' Women of the Gobi is a wonderful, personal journey along the Silk Road. James, a Lonely Planet editor, grew up in an evangelical family. Originally from Melbourne, she spent seven years in India with her family as a child. Upon returning to India, years later, she came across the writings of three women; Francesca and Eva French, and Mildred Cable.

James' novel is a lovely, personable, informed book. The author's own persona in the book is not intrusive-if anything, she is too humble in describing herself, and always ready to see things while "standing in someone else's shoes". Highly recommended, especially for those with an urge to take a road less traveled."

James Massola, December 2006.

About Women of the Gobi:

Young Australian writer Kate James, armed with a copy of Monkey and a Mandarin phrasebook and with a craving for skewered lamb, travels across the deserts of northwest China in the footsteps of three early 20th century Christian missionary women and their Mongolian adopted daughter.
Kate James grew up among missionaries in India but rejected her family’s faith. However she became drawn to the writings of three missionaries known as the Trio. Mildred Cable and the sisters Eva and Francesca French were indomitable and independent English women who spent most of their lives in China, adopted a deaf Mongolian daughter called Topsy and braved sandstorms and warlords to cross the barren Gobi desert on a Bible-laden donkey cart six times between 1923 and 1936.

While most of Kate’s knowledge about northwest China came from watching re-runs of Monkey, she was tired of aimless travel and the backpacker scene, so she decided to follow the Trio through the sands, from their girls school in central China along the Silk Road into Central Asia, the monasteries of Tibet and into China’s Muslim provinces.

Along the way she met a young Living Buddha who liked to draw cars, ate yak hot-pot, was groped by a monk, heard too many Celine Dione songs in muzak form, went briefly mad with altitude sickness, breathed in too much second-hand cigarette smoke and watched China knocking down its historic neighbourhoods and brushing up on its English skills in preparation for the Olympic Games.

Throughout the journey Kate drew inspiration from the three women missionaries of last century.  She also discovered something amazing in following their footsteps: religion was now thriving in China. Their legacy was alive in spite of nearly sixty years of communism. Like socialism, it has taken on Chinese characteristics.

About the author

Kate James has travelled extensively, worked as an English teacher in India, as a journalist on country and suburban newspapers and is currently a freelance editor, mainly on travel guidebooks. To find out more about Kate, view more photos from her trip, or to email Kate visit: www.katejames.net

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$29.95 plus $2.00 postage for delivery within Australia.

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ISBN: 1 86403 329 0          272 pages         RRP$29.95         October 2006


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