Reviewed by Jo Hardy
This is not your usual glossy table top travel book. It is quite a large book but has a soft cover. I found it was like looking through a friends photos and reading their travel diary. The author Marion Kaplan, now in her eighties, worked as a freelance photojournalist all over the world for some big publications including National Geographic and The Times and this book is a selection of her personal photos and views. It includes countries, from seven continents and some islands, with lots of photos both in colour and black and white, some of them from as far back as the fifties. A lot of them not photos of the usual tourist spots but a real insight into the lives of the people in other parts of the world. The text about each country is often a memory jog to events that happened in the past and had been forgotten or other times a completely new bit of information. It could be read from cover to cover or flicked through every now and again to pick out the countries that catch your eye. It is very easy to read, full of interesting information without being a heavy read. It’s the type of book you can put down and pick up again anytime and continue where you left off.
Use it to recap on places you have visited in the past or gather information on places you would like to visit in the future.
Although born in London the author lived in Africa for twenty years so Africa is covered very extensively and some of my favourite photos were in this section. .Along with some great photos of local people there are many photos of the wild life and my favourite of all is the photo of King Penguins on the remote South Atlantic island of South Georgia. There are no humans living permanently on this island, but more than two hundred thousand penguins. In the United Kingdom chapter I was delighted to see a couple of photographs from my local area “The Lake District”.
The book has a postscript by Sir Michael Palin who is well known for his travel documentaries. He says he has seen glimpses of places in the book that he hopes to visit one day.
I didn’t quite understand the title of the book “Marble and Mud “so tried to find out more information. It is a quote by American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne. I think marble represents possessions and mud represents work and effort. I could then see how that would fit with the book.
We don’t all have the energy or the means to travel the world so why not do it from the comfort of your armchair through the eyes of Marion Kaplan. I don’t think you could get a better armchair tour.
Published in Great Britain by Moho Books in 2020 it is available from moho-books.com priced at £19.95.