Thursday, 12 April 2018

The Art of Vanishing, A Memoir of Wanderlust by Laura Smith



How easy is it to vanish without a trace? Well, it happens all the time as Claire says in the beginning of the time travelling series Outlander. This also happened to Barbara Newhall Follett, a free spirit, who walked out of her flat one evening, never to be seen again.

When Laura Smith's wedding day was nearing she felt a little bit of panic. Was it possible to be married and still feel free? Luckily, her husband was a kindred spirit, and instead of settling down near their families, they went travelling for a year or two, before they came back to settle, temporarily, in New York. She was finishing her studies and was looking for a theme for her thesis. Someone mention Barbara Newhall Follett and she was hooked.

Barbara was a very special child. Her parents taught her to read, write and use a typewriter before she was six years old. She wrote her first novel at 11 and enlisted as a deck hand on a boat heading for the China seas when she was 15. She was the first woman to hike the Appalachian trail, met her future husband there, travelled around the world, for a time settling down in Mallorca. When she was 25, on a December afternoon in 1939, she left the apartment where she lived with her husband (although the marriage was more or less over), never to be seen again.

A fascinating story of an independent woman. Laura Smith started her own investigation to try to find out what happened to Barbara, but I will not spoil it by revealing anything here. As the investigation goes ahead Lauran discovers that she is a kindred spirit and the story of Barbara is intertwined with her own life and way of looking at it.

The mystery is not only the disappearance, but Laura Smith also looks at how our childhood dreams may vanish when we are caught up in the rytm of life. Must we all do the same things in life; have a steady work, get married and have children or are there other options for those who do not approve? Laura Smith shows with her book that you can have and live your dream and still be part of society. It is a balancing act. Because after all, if we give up our dreams what do we have?

As you know these kind of real life mysteries are my favourites. I enjoyed the book and liked very much how Laura Smith intertwine her life with Barbaras. It gives you a perspective of the various ways you can live your life.


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