It is early to say which book will end up as my favorite for 2014, but this book, After You, Marco Polo, is pushing very very high. I have enjoyed every single line written by Jean Shor. She is wearing a chapoon in this picture above. She was on the verge of dying, as her husband Franc, as they followed together in the steps of Marco Polo, -crossing through the most dangerous paths in the world, and meeting remote civilizations and unbelievable people-.
Half way in the book, I deliberately stopped reading to stretch it and savor it longer. In the interval I read the Home Maker, by Canfield, and Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry. But once I picked it back, I could not stop this fascinating account of a memorable trip. Jean impressed me with her courage, and her book is fascinating from beginning to end.
I was hoping to find another book of the same caliber, but it is not possible… not every day, month or even year, two Americans -and Jean Shor was Texan, so double points, girl!-, embark themselves in such a feat. And it is not every year the Chinese are at war… today, Internet and communications have killed some of the mystery and allure of that time of travel when the Shor couple emulated Marco Polo.
Books about travels is a genre I did not know was going to strike these exciting cords in my reading heart. Second to traveling yourself, reading about other people’s trips is exciting. At times I wish I had been with the Shor couple, but many others, I was so glad I did not have to endure that level of physical and emotional resistance. Some of Jean’s reflections will surprise you tremendously. I do not want to spoil the book, but the instance when they realize they can read cans and tins, and they delight in reading the label of their ointment and the bottle of Bovril -after being days and weeks without nothing to read-, is incredible.
Good bye, Jean Shor, and good bye, Franc. Thanks for living to write about your trip.