If there ever was a year in which being an armchair traveler kept us in our place, 2020 owned it. The novel Coronavirus massively curtailed vacation wanderings. Yet our wanderlust continues to crave new horizons. For now, feel inspired while staying at home by diving into a new far-flung travel memoir that energizes, entertains, enlightens and encourages you to ask yourself: What do you want most for your traveling tomorrows?
Facing a personal catastrophe after an accident in New York City, Mary Morris laid frustratingly flat on her back — her doctor unsure whether she would walk again — when a life-goal epiphany grabbed her heart and wouldn’t let go. So she determinedly gathered strength, strategized options and put wheels into motion to journey solo to India in pursuit of the world’s most elusive apex predator: the Bengal tiger. This is not a typical response to overcoming repercussions of major injury, for sure, but there were other demons for Morris to brave and conquer as well. And travel can be a potent therapy. The compelling why and how of jumpstarting her epic adventure launches a multilayered story unfurled in 100 brief chapters — like little pearls expertly strung on an intricate necklace — somewhat similar to a journal, skipping back and forth in time and place, which Morris delivers with grace and grit. Author of the stellar travel escape, Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone, as well as numerous novels, including Gateway to the Moon, The Jazz Palace and House Arrest, Morris ties together descriptions of recovery, resilience, revelation and renewal in All the Way to the Tigers (Doubleday/Penguin Random House).
Her quest to globe-trot across the Earth in order to spy an endangered creature that is rarely seen drives the book’s narrative and reveals multitudes about Morris, who grew up in Chicago, steered single motherhood and bit hungrily into the Big Apple’s literary scene. As detailed intimacies unfold — anecdotes about her childhood, relationships with her parents, husband, daughter and others who have played pivotal roles — the book meditatively beats. For you, the reader, this memoir’s personal draw is to take a gentle pause to think about how family, friends, colleagues and strangers have affirmed and altered your trajectory along known and unpaved paths.
Her longing for personal freedom is powerful, as is her comforting commitment toward those she holds most dear. Morris’ reflections might mirror some of your own life’s questions — inner yearnings to pursue a dream, however fantastical, or to make a change. Following Morris to India and through its kaleidoscope of pleasures and treasures, challenges and complications, frustrations and fascinations is eye opening.
For starters, navigating India’s roadways can be daunting — and yet it almost always works out. Her driver “honks his horn endlessly as he weaves his way around every car, motorbike, truck, taxi, child on a bike, and beast of burden,”