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'Don't go looking for Antarctica without this book.' - Susan Solomon




The Explorer's Daughter: A Young Englishwoman Rediscovers Her Arctic Childhood

by Kari Herbert

Penguin Viking
ISBN: 0 670 91374 X
Price: £18.99

Kari is the daughter of polar explorer Sir Wally Herbert. When she was only 10 months old he took her and his wife Marie to northern Greenland where they were to live for almost two years whilst he documented the fading culture of the Polar Eskimo.

This was long before the luxury tours available today, and many would have said it was madness to take a young family to such a remote and harsh land. The courageous exploits of this amazing family culminated in two wonderful books - in addition to Wally's own publications - honouring the people they lived with. The first was Marie's The Snow People: Life among the Polar Eskimos published in 1973, the second is Kari's new book.

The family made several return visits during Kari's childhood, then as an adult in 2002 she returned alone to reacquaint herself with the people she regards as family. This book is an account of that visit, interwoven with reminiscences of a most unconventional childhood wrapped snugly in the warmheartedness of the people who readily accepted her family, taught them their ways and watched out for their safety.

This was a visit that challenged the emotions of all concerned: modern life had brought many difficulties as well as advantages, and personal tragedies that had befallen Kari and her Greenlandic family were reawakened. The deep emotions, expectations, uncertainty and euphoria of this unique experience are all expertly related, whilst at the same time giving the reader an insight into the lives of the Inuit. In anthropological texts we may be given the same information, but the people are usually presented as objects; here the reader is able to identify with them as people just like ourselves.


Review by Solveig Gardner Sevian




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