Title: Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World
Author: Rita Golden Gelman
Page Count: 306
My Rating: 4.6/5
Rita Golden Gelman was a successful children’s book writer, mother, and wife. But after the shock of divorce at the age of forty-eight, she decided to give up all she had known to travel the world and set off entirely alone. Suddenly, all her dreams were no longer fantasies. Rita could go anywhere she wanted, whenever she wanted, without anyone’s permission. Life had gifted her with freedom.
Tales of a Female Nomad was a captivating read, as well as informative, filled from cover to cover with breathtaking imagery and honest descriptions. Gelman’s account felt similar to a “beach read”, offering an imaginative escape from reality for 306 pages. However, if you are looking for a truly, in-depth text on the locations featured, this is not it. Tales is about Gelman’s personal transformation from insecure housewife to confident, independent traveler. It is very egocentric, and the amazing destinations are only the stage for the story, not the subject. This is not necessarily a downfall; it just depends on what you are looking for and what you expect from it. If you do not want to read a lot of introspection and self-centered thought, Tales might not be for you.
Gelman set out with personal and anthropological motives, which is why I was not disappointed by her account. I knew it would be an account of her transformation and find that interesting, as such experiences have changed me in the past (more on this in future posts). Her focus is on people and relationships more than destinations, culture more than scenery. However, I found the descriptions fascinating and satisfying nonetheless.
I appreciated Gelman’s candidness throughout the narrative. At first I was put off by certain sexual accounts (there was only one or two) and bodily functions. This was because they were unexpected. As I mulled over it, I realized that she included these because they are realities off travel, and she was including the reader at an intimate level. Gelman also is very open in her feelings on religion and spirituality. I found her spiritual journey drew me in even farther, and I liked that she was not pretentious. I connected with her because she did not pretend to be perfect and have everything figured out.
However, Gelman has one narrative habit that annoyed me at times in the story. After going in depth about how she did not like this or that aspect or practice of a culture, she would conclude by stretching to say positive things about that same thing. This felt forced and fake to me. She kept shoving “it is not my place to judge” in the readers face, but only pages earlier she was doing just that.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this book for anyone with interest in traveling, soul searching, or individual journeys. Just do not go into this book with wrong expectations. Gelman offers a lot of life lessons and descriptions of other cultures’ practices; this book has a lot to give the reader. Keep an open mind and finish it, even if you find it slow at first.
Price: $14.95 USD
Buy it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or a local independent bookseller (I purchased mine at Two Sisters Bookery in Wilmington, NC).