"THE VERY RICH HOURS: Travels in Orkney, Belize, the Everglades, and Greece" by Emily Hiestand

"THE VERY RICH HOURS: Travels in Orkney, Belize, the Everglades, and Greece"

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Muddled, shapeless, serf-consciously sensitive travel essays that record newcomer Hiestand's adventures in two familiar locales (the Everglades and the Greek isles) and two less well-traveled ones (Belize and Scotland's Orkney Islands). Written with a curious blend of Victorian gentility (birds warble their ""evensong""; male friends are ""consorts"") and New Age theory (herbal medicine, the Gaia theory), the essays fail to bring to vibrant life either Hiestand or the places she visits. Hiestand first travels to the former British Honduras with ""Katherine,"" who is ""another peripatetic poet, my friend."" There, amid Mayan ruins, the author muses in typically murky fashion about the universe: ""...what we were standing on when we presumed to stand in cotton tee shirts on the nameless pyramid of the city newly named for a water hole, is at once a structure to focus and manifest divine energy for the human world and a means to move from earthly to celestial geography--surely a phenomenon into which every self-respecting traveler must inquire."" In Greece, Hiestand contemplates the bonhomie to be found in tavernas, while in the Everglades, visited with a ""consort,"" thoughts of solitude and ecological devastation arise. It is only when she travels to the isolated Orkney Islands with her feisty, bird-watching mother that Hiestand begins to settle down to observing the concrete and forswears her philosophizing. It's a relief, and the Orkney pages are the most successful here. By and large, a decidedly tedious trek.

Pub Date: Oct. 2nd, 1992
Page count: 236pp
Publisher: "Beacon--dist. by Farrar, Straus & Giroux"