As many of you know, I am obsessed with travelling. I don't know where this obsession began, but I think it had something to do with our trip to England and Italy when I was 14. Since then, I've visited a ton of places, some I loved (Vietnam, Peru) and others I couldn't stand (Mexico). I think the reason that Wanderlust is a 4* book is because I have never found a character that I have identified with so much.
A year ago, I found myself in Vietnam on a 3-month internship. You know when you have that summer that just changes your life and moulds you into an entirely different person? That was my Vietnam trip for me. One of the girls I was there with was primarily responsible for me opening up and experiencing new things, particularly in the romance department. I learned so much about myself and actually managed to dispel a lot of ridiculous notions that I had held close before my trip.
At the same time, my best friend was in Senegal, doing something similar. We both got back, full of stories, and realized that Canada was not where we wanted to be. So, in our last semester of school, we took off to Peru for a week, where we had a fantastic adventure. But upon our return, I still didn't feel at home in Canada and I took off to live in Prague. This is where things went wrong. I had spent all my money, and had no way of staying there for the period of time that I wanted. I came back to Canada, with my tail between my knees and thought that travelling wasn't for me anymore. Meanwhile, my best friend took off to live in Nepal, and our other close friend went to live in South Africa. Th Wanderlust crept up on me again, and I'm now going to live in Ireland.
Throughout this story, I was so envious of Elisabeth and her adventures. I wanted to be able to just be cool with things and go with the flow in the Middle East (granted, she was there pre-9/11). I wish I could travel up the coast of Australia and work wherever I want because it's so easy there. In her, I recognized the inability to be with any man, to want to live two lives. While I've never been unfaithful, I completely understood her adultery on some level, which frightened me a bit.
Others have complained about Elisabeth not having any meaningful relationships. Unfortunately, this is something I can relate to as well. I moved away from my hometown in rural Canada to the capital city for university. Over the 5 years that I lived there, I lost touch with my friends back home and made newer, stronger relationships. Now that I'm back home, I'm feeling the strain again, but this time with my friends in Ottawa. Aside from my best friend, who is a traveller like myself, there's no on that I am desperate to keep in contact with. And that's okay. That's the kind of person I am.
All the above is to demonstrate how much my life is like Elisabeth's. Like I said, I think this is why I enjoyed this book so much. The writing wasn't particularly beautiful; the story was told in a matter-of-fact way that didn't exactly captivate me. But it was my ability to relate and to see myself in Elisabeth that made this story for me. Her story has made me want to write about my own experience, though I don't know how I'd feel, having all my escapades out there for my family to read about. Elisabeth's brutal honesty in her feelings about men throughout the book made me a tad uncomfortable, not because they were sexist in any way, but because I couldn't imagine ever feeling so ambivalent about a relationship.
All in all, a fantastic read for anyone who feels like they don't belong in their home country, or who just has an insistent travel bug.