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Women of The Gobi: Journeys on the Silk Road
Women of the Gobi
Journeys on the Silk Road
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
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
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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ISBN: 1 86403 329 0