Today I’m sharing my thoughts on A Geordie Up The Ganges by Nell Cook. This book was inspired by the author’s own story and my thanks go to her for inviting me to review the book. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
IT’S CRUNCH TIME AND JENNIFER BARNES MUST SEIZE THE DAYAvailable from Amazon
She’s stumbling through the mid-life crisis from hell…and then she receives a diagnosis that puts her future in jeopardy.
She has two choices. Crumble or follow the call of her heart. She chooses life, and embarks on an adventure trip to India armed with pick-pocket-proof knickers and a shewee.
To add to her woes she must travel with a group of seven strangers.
Among her travelling companions are an upper-class toff with bossy tendencies, and a wisecracking, gorgeous Glaswegian who says he’s in it for the adventure.
During the journey from one end of the Ganges to the other, Jen experiences the magic of the biggest festival on earth; rides the river’s rapids; and glimpses the wilder side of Varanasi.
Wanting pity from no-one, she hides her illness, and during the journey learns she’s not the only one with secrets.
Will opposites attract? Does Jen have the strength to resist the temptation of forbidden fruits? What will she discover about herself and others and, can she master the shewee?
A Geordie Up The Ganges is a moving, heartwarming, often funny look into the life of Jennifer Barnes. Receiving a shocking diagnosis on her fiftieth birthday throws her whole life into disarray. Jennifer knows she can either give up and allow despair to take over, or she can take a chance and go on the journey of a lifetime, even if it could be her last. When she is handed a leaflet for a tour which takes in all of the sights of India, the decision is made. India it is.
And this is where Jen’s, and the reader’s, journey really begins. From watching her meticulous planning – including the strategic purchase of the aforementioned shewee – to setting up a blog on which she can update her friends and family back home about her journey, she takes it all in her stride, pushing her possible life sentence to the back of her mind, at least for now.
So off to India we go and my what a journey Jen goes on. With a wide and varied bunch of characters on the tour with her, there is no end to the smiles and laughter that we share with this odd troop. From occasionally overbearing and officious Alexandra, fitness loving Scot, Fraser, the couple who are doomed to always be late (every tour has one) Derek and Betty, relative youngsters Summer and Charlie to retired history teacher, Ivan all are vibrant, unique and interesting characters, all offering something a little different to enrich the story and jen’s journey.
Strange dinners, happy dancing, tearful confessions, and some underhanded acts of spite all colour the story as we travel across the continent. It turns out that every one of Jen’s fellow travellers has their own reasons for being on the trip – some secret, some not – all of which are gradually revealed to the reader giving us a better insight to some of the strange quirks of behaviour they all exhibit. The author has portrayed them all brilliantly, weaving some really poignant moments in amongst all the frivolity of the tour.
But what I really enjoyed about the book, what I find most appealing about the book, is the way the author has brought the setting to life. Jen is an amateur photographer, so a lot of time is spent in trying to recapture the spirit of what she sees in a simple snatch of time but it proves so hard for her. No such problem for the author who really manages to give us a sense of authenticity to what we are reading, providing a keen sense of place and recreating the imagery, sights and sounds brilliantly. Now I have never been to India, I had a really clear picture of where Jen was and what she was seeing. It is not just simply a trip to the Taj Mahal, or a moralistics travelogue about the poor classes verses the wealthy, although both are captured in the text. It looks into the heart of the country, the religious ceremonies, the varied cultures and lifestyles that truly make the place what it is.
Now this isn’t all happiness. Jen is in a very hard place afterall. When you are told you have a disease that could kill you, you would be forgiven for moments on introspection, doubt and fear, and Jen suffers them all. But you can also take heart and inspiration from the way she doesn’t let it beat her in the end. She may have to battle a few demons along the way, but she has the right spirit, and the right group of friends around her, to do just that.
A wonderful and enjoyable story. Great stuff.
About the Author
Nell Cook is an author, photographer, and Geordie Lass who writes stories about ordinary people in extraordinary situations.
Her debut novel, A Geordie Up The Ganges, was inspired by a life-changing
trip to India that she undertook just five days after a shock cancer diagnosis. Poignant and hilarious, Nell’s novel celebrates the love, strength, humour and sheer determination to beat the odds we each have within us.
Nell was born and bred in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and now lives in Blackpool. She works in finance and writes in every spare moment she can carve out of her day. She has a passion for photography too and can often be found in the Lake District with her camera on a tripod. She is little but noisy, enjoys drinking coffee and loves witnessing the rising of the sun.