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  • Two Roads
  • Two Roads
  • Two Roads

Windswept: why women walk

Annabel Abbs

8 Reviews

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Walking, hiking, trekking, Travel writing

A feminist exploration of the power of walking in nature, following in the footsteps of Gwen John, Georgia O'Keeffe, Frieda Lawrence, Clara Vyvyan, Simone de Beauvoir and Nan Shepherd.

The story of extraordinary women who lost their way - their sense of self, their identity, their freedom - and found it again through walking in the wild.

'Moving and memorable' Virginia Nicholson, author of How Was It for You?

'A triumph ... I felt as though I were being lifted, carried up to peaks' Charlotte Peacock, author of Into the Mountain: A Life of Nan Shepherd

'A beautiful and meditative memoir' Publishers Weekly

For centuries, the wilds have been male territory, while women sat safely confined at home. But not all women did as they were told, despite the dangers; history reveals women for whom rural walking became inspiration, consolation and liberation.

In this powerful and deeply inspiring book, Annabel Abbs uncovers women who refused to conform, who recognised a biological, emotional and artistic need for wilderness, water and desert - and who took the courageous step of walking unpeopled and often forbidding landscapes.

Part wild-walk, part memoir, Windswept follows an exhilarating journey from Abbs's isolated, car-less childhood to her walking the remote paths trodden by extraordinary women, including Georgia O'Keeffe in the empty plains of Texas and New Mexico, Nan Shepherd in the mountains of Scotland, Gwen John following the Garonne, Simone de Beauvoir in the mountains and forests of France and Daphne du Maurier along the River Rhone.

A single question pulses through their walks: How does a woman change once she becomes windswept?

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Praise for Windswept: why women walk

  • Amazing... lovely, haunting, inspiring and so well done. - Professor Amy Von Lintel, author of The Wartime Texas Letters of Georgia O Keeffe, and Georgia O Keeffe Watercolours.

  • A gorgeous and revelatory blend of memoir, travelogue, and long-forgotten history, Annabel Abbs's Windswept tells the stories of six extraordinary women and their intertwining journeys-one accomplished by foot and the other by the mind and heart. Abbs is a witty and engaging guide, seamlessly weaving her own experience with those of her "walking women," all of whom discovered that the simple act of taking one step at a time can be the most powerful-and defiant-of all. - Abbott Kahler, New York Times bestselling author of The Ghosts of Eden Park

  • A triumph ... I felt as though I were being lifted, carried up to peaks. - Charlotte Peacock, author of Into the Mountain: A Life of Nan Shepherd

  • Brilliant... clever, clever Annabel - Postcards from Midlife

  • I love how the act of walking connects the lives of these women - and how it transforms them. It makes me want to go for a hike just to see what happens. Windswept satisfies my endless appetite for untold stories of women's history, filling important gaps and bringing their stories into light. - Mia Kankimaki, author of Women I Think About At Night

  • [A] beautiful and meditative memoir. This lush narrative serves as the perfect excuse to get moving. - Publishers Weekly

  • A compelling, erudite book that mixes travel memoir with tantalising oblique biography. - Saga

  • 'I couldn't put it down...The interweaving of different chronologies, the lives of these fascinating women, with scientific information about the value of walking is incredibly deft. The humour, the very prescient section on women's unsafe walking in public, sexual harassment, the chapter headings like Victorian novels, the sac a dos as walking companion, the range: menstruation, mothering, art, literature sexuality and more! Quite extraordinary. And yet written in such a free flowing, readable style. I'm in awe.' - Maggie Humm, author of Talland House, Washington Independent Review of Books '51 Favourite Books of 2020'

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Annabel Abbs

Annabel Abbs lives in London with her husband and four children. Her bestselling debut novel, The Joyce Girl, won the Impress Prize for New Writers and was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award, the Waverton Good Read Award and the Caledonia Novel Award.

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