Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Improbable Women: Five Who Explored the…

Improbable Women: Five Who Explored the Middle East

by William Woods Cotterman

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
91950,433 (3)1



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 1 mention

bookshelves: autumn-2013, biography, e-book, history, published-2013, nonfiction, women, net-galley, adventure, ancient-history, archaeology, cover-love, lifestyles-deathstyles, travel
Read from September 28 to 29, 2013

NetGalley: Syracuse University Press: Pub Date Oct 16 2013


To my wife, Kennethe;
My daughters Elizabeth, Kennethe and Dana;
My granddaughters Jennifer, Lauren, Sarah,
Emily, Liliy and Alena;
And my great-granddaughters
Harper, Alexa and Violet
- improbable women all.

Author biography
List of Maps and Figures

'Zenobia's Last Look on Palmyra' by Herbert G Schmalz 1888

First up wass Lady Hester Stanhope, an adventurer and would-be archaeologist whose main interest was Ashkelon, which will be a place I shall investigate further as it has such an interesting history.

Next, Lady Ellenborough, Jane Digby, and I must get my hands on some further readings about this female as no matter where when looks for information there is colourful rhetoric surrounding her lifestyle.

Then the lady that I was most interested in from outset, Isabel Burton, wife to the fascinating explorer Richard Burton:

And Gertrude Bell of course, master spy, linguist and the owner of nerves of steel:

Lastly Freya Stark, who I didn't know very much about, which really heightened the interest factor:

All in all this is a lovely book of small biographies of accomplished females who tramped the same piece of earth in different time periods.

Within the blurb for this book it states: the story of each woman’s pilgrimage to Palmyra to pay homage to the warrior queen, which is inaccurate because it would lead a reader to believe that was the only reason these women travelled to Palmyra.

The link has more to do with the combination of vicinity and adventurous spirit yet these more modern women can not really be placed in the same category as Zenobia, who was warrior Queen fighting against invaders and occupiers. This tenuous connection rather flat-lines the basis for this book, however, overall, this is a glorious tribute to some spunky ladies adventuring in the middle east and quite the primer for highlighting areas of further interest.

Cross posted to Betties Books, LibraryThing, aNobii, GoodReads, NetGalley

1 like ( )
  mimal | Sep 29, 2013 |
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

Zenobia was the third-century Syrian queen who rebelled against Roman rule. Before Emperor Aurelian prevailed against her forces, she had seized almost one-third of the Roman Empire. Today, her legend attracts thousands of visitors to her capital, Palmyra, one of the great ruined cities of the ancient world. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, during the time of Ottoman rule, travel to the Middle East was almost impossible for Westerners. That did not stop five daring women from abandoning their conventional lives and venturing into the heart of this inhospitable region. Improbable Women explores the lives of Hester Stanhope, Jane Digby, Isabel Burton, Gertrude Bell, and Freya Stark, narrating the story of each woman's pilgrimage to Palmyra to pay homage to the warrior queen. Although the women lived in different time periods, ranging from the eighteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, they all came from middle to upper-class British backgrounds and overcame great societal pressures to pursue their independence. Cotterman situates their lives against a backdrop of the Middle Eastern history that was the setting for their adventures. Divided into six sections, one devoted to Zenobia and one focused on each of the five women, Improbable Women is a fascinating glimpse into the experiences and characters of these intelligent, open-minded, and free-spirited explorers.… (more)

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3)
3 1

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 125,299,817 books! | Top bar: Always visible