tu: the right book for the backpack
Some books inspire us to seek out new adventures, while others make great reading while on the road. Intrepid Express reader Arapine Walker recommends a book that turned out to be her perfect travelling companion in Italy…
“In 2008 my 3 girlfriends and I travelled from New Zealand to Italy to celebrate the first of us turning 50 (the new 30 by the way!) Just before we left Auckland I bought a book that I could read on the long flight to Rome via Los Angeles & Frankfurt. I bought Patricia Grace’s book Tu about three brothers during the second world war. It took me a week or so to read, as of course there was so much going on for a first-timer in Italy, however it was absolutely the right book at the right time and place.
We had decided months before that we wanted to visit a place in Italy where Maori soldiers were buried during the second world war (maybe this is a NZ thing?) But we still hadn’t decided which place by the time we got to Italy. Patricia Grace’s book made up my mind for me, it had to be Monte Cassino. The way she wrote about the battle at Monte Cassino was so real and poignant I was convinced that this was the place. Luckily my mates agreed.
Despite some hassles and frayed nerves we made it there near the end of our trip. In a strange way it was one of the highlights for me. I knew when tears just rolled down my cheeks as we drove up the mountain towards the abbey that it was right for us to go there. Across the divide of time and space I felt that someone, who was connected to me, had been there at Monte Cassino during that assault on the abbey. It was unmistakable.
After we visited the abbey we went to the cemetery where the allies were buried. One of my mates did a karanga (traditional call) to acknowledge the dead as we entered the part where the New Zealanders were buried. We spent time looking at all the graves but especially those of the Maori men. We recognised many of their surnames from tribes across our whole country. It was a truly special and cathartic time that we wont forget in a hurry.
I like to think that it was Patricia Grace’s book that helped make it happen. Every time I look at the book I remember Italy, the smells, the incredible places and of course Monte Cassino where the lives of so many of our men ended prematurely. A good book at the right time and place is, like the Mastercard advert says, priceless!”
If a book has inspired you to travel or simply makes for great reading while on the road, please email email@example.com – let us know a little of what it’s about plus an indication of the size, as we would love to hear your recommendation for a great backpack book!
You can check out other recommendations from Intrepid Express readers by clicking on the ‘books for your backpack’ travel theme in this blog.
* photo by Lee Barry – Intrepid Photography Competition