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Caravan by Dorothy Gilman

Caravan (1992)

by Dorothy Gilman

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3541048,032 (3.71)24
"A lushly romantic adventure story set in the North African desert in 1914, told by the impeccable Lady Treal as she reminisces in her London town house about her decidedly peccable past...Well-written, expertly plotted, perfectly paced." NEWSDAY With her anthropologist husband murdered and their caravan stolen by fierce Tuareg tribesmen, Caressa's choices are death or a life of slavery. Concealing her dangerous beauty beneath the faded robes of an Arab boy, she embarks on the adventrue of her life, harassed by vicious nomads, slave traders and the envious witch doctor, Isa. Only a handful of carnival magic tricks stand between her and oblivion. Then she discovers an inner magic so mysteriously compelling that the desert people call her a sorceress. With it she will secure her freedom and discover the love of her life.... From the Paperback edition.… (more)



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» See also 24 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Not at all what I was expecting from a Gilman - the same rich characters, descriptions, events, but no quirky funny bits at all. There's some joyful bits - it's not all dark! - but where I would expect Mrs. Pollifax to make a comment about events and make them funny, Caressa merely accepted them, or rejected them. She doesn't have Mrs. Pollifax's quirky mind. Not a bad thing, just not what I was expecting. Caressa is a carny - raised in a carnival, and well educated in tricks (she's a juggler, a pickpocket, a magician...). She gets married to a man who wants to write books about distant places; he takes her along on a voyage through the Sahara, and dies of it. At that point Caressa becomes completely unmoored from who she has been, and has to rebuild herself and her life - through all the chops and changes that happen to and around her. Her carny skills turn out to be very useful, at various points. She is, at various points, a captive of the Tuareg, a caravan traveler passing as a boy, a magic woman, a slave sold thrice in a few days...She is incredibly lucky, though - author's fiat. She gets raped only once, and it turns out to mean freedom and more (that's when the romance shows up - late in the book). She also makes various friends, and the important ones don't die of knowing her. The end of the blind man strikes me as making no sense in context - he's lived and traveled in the desert how long, and now he makes this basic error? He should have been able to tell, long before he lay down to sleep. The whole thing with Jared bothers me, though not nearly as much as what Linton pulled. Though she won that battle - I have no idea what he thought he would gain. It's written as a memoir, in her old age - written so her daughter and granddaughter know what really happened to her. So by the end of the book we've learned what became of just about everyone. One odd thing is how female her family is - Caressa was raised by her mother and grandmother, she connected with various men and then separated again - even Jared disappears (one way and another - he never has a voice in the book again after they separate). By the end of her life, it's Caressa, her daughter, and her granddaughter - no men around any more. I wonder if it was intentional. A very strange book; I'm glad I read it, I'm not at all sure I ever want to reread it. ( )
  jjmcgaffey | Jan 11, 2017 |
As I started the dry narrative of Caressa's early life, I kept asking myself: is it the same Dorothy Gilman of Mrs. Pollifax? Yes, it is. So, some authors not always create pleasant readings. While I thoroughly enjoyed the first installment of Mrs. Pollifax unlikely adventures, Caressa left me unmoved. Actually, I was a bit disgusted at her lack of sense of right and wrong, her total lack of moral sense. After making a huge effort and plodding through several pages I chucked the book and went back to Mrs. Pollifax. ( )
  MrsRK | Nov 21, 2016 |
Really fun period adventure story with elements of magical realism. Second time I've read it - it's that good! ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Rather flat retelling of what should have been a tremendous adventure (except for the dead husband). ( )
  picardyrose | Nov 5, 2010 |
What a delightful story! A young girl's journey from Kansas to Boston and on to places she'd only imagined. More than simply a story of a girl's "discovery" of herself; what she thinks of as herself is peeled away, until what's left is what she must call Herself. A mix of adventure and fantasy with a light dose of romance thrown in (just light enough for me). An entirely enjoyable story, this was a short one that left me wanting to find more of Ms. Gilman's work. ( )
1 vote monica67 | Feb 4, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dorothy Gilmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Siety, FrancineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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