3* (out of 5*)
This is not Ella Maillart’s first book but details the early part of her life. Before she set out to explore the globe on land, Maillart worked as a language teacher in an English girls’ school but longed to follow her passion of sailing. When she unexpectedly was offered a position as a cook and general help on a private yacht, she jumped at the opportunity. Of course, she didn’t stay a cook and general assistant for long. She was an experienced sailor already and quickly became a vital member of the deck crew.
I enjoyed reading about Maillart’s life before her travels to Asia, but a lot of the descriptions meant nothing to me as I have little knowledge about sailing.
It was great to read tho that for all her gumption and adventurous spirit, Maillart also describes her doubts about working in an environment in the 1920s that was almost exclusively staffed by men.
When reading about her later travels, it is quite easy to forget that what she set out to do really was extraordinary and it is just as easy to presume that she was so full of self-confidence that she did not even consider herself breaking any social norms.
This was not the case. Maillart was quite self-conscious in her youth, but her passion for living life to her own liking was stronger than any parental advice or social restrictions.
It was also refreshing to read about the acceptance she found among fellow sailors and fishermen during those early adventures.