More poetry than prose, this book found me – as good books are want to do – when I needed it most. Galvanised by her distaste for maps and the cult of the European male adventurer, Griffiths embarked on a seven-year odyssey that took her to the homes of sea gypsies, the freedom fighters of West Papua, Amazonian shamans and the Inuit in order to capture, in words, the feral wildness that howls – however muffled – within all human hearts.
Delving into each of the elemental forces of nature – Earth, Ice, Water, Fire and Air – Griffiths is one of those rare travellers that can tap into the songlines of a place. She hears the hum, crack and rustle of the world and through the talented musicality of her phrasing brings it to life for the reader.
She urges us to turn our heads away from the television and tick-tock of ‘Captain Clock’ and re-wild our senses:
We may think we are domesticated but we are not. Feral in pheromone and intuition, feral in our sweat and fear, feral in tongue and language… we were not born for pavements and escalators but for thunder and mud.
Griffiths doesn’t shy away from exploring the feral nature of our carnal desires either. One episode on a glacier made me gasp and gawk in awe of her pluckiness and inspired to me shrug off the cloak of shyness or shame that society clothes us in. Indeed, it’s a call to arms for any woman whose soul may be withering under the weight of the many roles we’re pressed into. Hers is the much-needed message that (even a small dose of) nomadism is necessary to the health of our souls. Perceptive, lyrical and brave, it’s a rally cry to reconnect and resurrect our feral selves. And in a time of great is disconnect, it’s a message that I feel makes it the best travel book of the last decade.
Emma Thomson is an award-winning travel journalist and current BGTW Travel Writer of the Year. Her guidebook Northern Belgium: The Bradt Travel Guide can be ordered so do get in touch if you would like a copy.