An amusing fictional travelogue of two British spinsters on a South American adventure.
Fanny is enjoying a quiet life in a small English village when her friend Dora shakes up her routine with an invitation for a six-week trip to the other side of the world. Dora tries to reassure her by saying that her nephew John and his boyfriend had been on a similar trip and said it was “perfectly manageable.” Fanny isn’t the adventurous sort, but she surprises herself by saying yes, despite her misgivings. With small suitcases in tow, the two embark on a whirlwind tour of multiple cities in Brazil, Argentina, Chile (including Easter Island), and Peru. The pair are slightly behind the times regarding the use of technology—“You ordered a book from the Amazon? How interesting”—but the author takes a more modern approach to the elderly-British-women-overseas trope. Aside from a few exclamations of “how exotic!,” he shows Dora and Fanny to be respectful, engaged travelers who take time to enjoy the beauty of their surroundings, such as staying up late on Christmas to watch candle-lit paper balloons being released over a lake in San Carlos de Bariloche in the province of Río Negro, Argentina. There are no grand epiphanies in this novel—just the ordinary pleasures of gratitude, lifelong learning, and friendships that deepen from a shared experience in a new setting. Handwritten notes across the typeset pages lend authenticity to the overall journal theme, and cheeky humor abounds. The two friends also play off each other well: Dora, described as “overly tall” and often criticized for towering “over people in more ways than one,” turns out to be an enthusiastic navigator who knows how to use a selfie stick; Fanny, a short, “hearty woman who could easily put back a good cream tea,” charms with her infectious sense of joie de vivre.
It’s a pleasure following Fanny and Dora on this breezy, funny tour of beautiful places.