Books by Leila Hadley

A JOURNEY WITH ELSA CLOUD by Leila Hadley
NONFICTION
Released: May 15, 1997

In a weighty account, kitchen sink included, a proper, upper- class mother visits her estranged daughter in India and during their perambulations through the countryside achieve a better, if not complete, appreciation for each other's viewpoint. Nothing escapes the descriptive attack of Hadley, a blue- blooded, experienced magazine and travel writer, as she and daughter Veronica (a.k.a. Elsa Cloud) travel through the subcontinent in class, visiting the palaces of maharajahs, touring game preserves, participating in some wild Hindu festivals, and finally reaching Veronica's Buddhist redoubt near the home of the Dalai Lama. Keen of eye and ear, Hadley gives a detailed disquisition on India's flora and fauna, history, geography, religions, and foods as well as individual portraits of Indian holy men, intellectuals, and ordinary folk—all of which can leave a reader gasping under its magnitude. But India's spiritualism, its conjoining of asceticism and erotica, its architecture and landscape, principally form the stage for Hadley's quest to come to terms with her 25-year-old daughter's rebellion—which one suspects is not entirely deep-seated—against her materially based upbringing—as well as Hadley's fixations on her own relationship with her frigid mother. Hadley avoids confrontations with Veronica, while confiding her anxieties and complaints to her reader: She wonders whether she has repeated her mother's mistakes in raising Veronica; she questions whether Veronica has inherited the emotional coldness of her own mother. In between, Hadley delivers flashbacks of a privileged if often loveless childhood, her failed teenage marriage, and her unusually adventurous life with Veronica's father, a dreamy geologist who eventually abandoned the family. All of this, including her therapist's Jungian admonitions, are connected in some way; but even as the reader sometimes wishes Hadley's writings were less fevered, one must admire her honesty and industriousness in producing a rather monumental work. (Author tour) Read full book review >