The Independent Book of the Year
The Times Book of the Year
The Sunday Times Book of the Year
' A hugely ambitious project, a mix of anthropology,
history, politics and travelogue, but Drysdale brings
it off brilliantly. If you still have doubts about the
relevance of travel writing in the 21st century, this
book will satisfy them.'
Anthony Sattin, Sunday Times
'Mother Tongues is my book of the year. It is the
type of book which makes travel unnecessary for the
rest of us. Drysdale's writing is simultaneously engrossing,
descriptive and diverting. She is the best of travelling
Peter Hughes, The Times
'Travel writing is, on the whole, a debased and exhausted
genre. Helena Drysdale is different. For a start, she
can write; every page of her new book carries the imprint
of her originality of thought and expression. You never
doubt that she travels not just to discover herself,
but the world in all its dizzying perplexity.'
Jason Cowley, New Statesman
'Her impressive new book is rich in anecdote and
linguistic analysis, in expert reportage and insight,
and is in parts very beautiful. Drysdale's powers
of description are as fresh as ever.'
Edward Marriot, Evening Standard
'Her evocation of the European landscape is masterful.
She really understands what it feels, looks like and
smells like in Europe's lonelier corners, and has
a profound knowledge of the writers who tried to fan
the embers of ailing cultures by using their mother
Marcus Tanner, The Independent
'Best travelogue: Helena Drysdale's exploration of
Europe's minorities, with kids and van, in Mother
Tongues. Her children will never forgive her; her
readers will never reproach her.'
Felipe Fernandez Armesto, Independent 'Books of
'A witty account of the author's journey through
the shadowy, contested areas of Europe. Drysdale is
a generous guide and her book is as entertaining as
it is instructive.'
Jason Cowley, Times 'Books of the Year'
'At a time when many are wary of venturing too far
from home, Mother Tongues brings back the thrill of
exploring "little old Europe".'
Vitali Vitaliev, Daily Telegraph
'The experience of exchanging a nice London home
for 18 months in a tin box makes this the most original
travel book for years.'
Amanda Craig, Good Housekeeping
'She opens up new frontiers for our imagination.'
Barnaby Rogerson, Country Life
'As refreshing as it is different, this delightful
book makes a strong case for the need to protect the
language, identities and culture of Europe's indigenous
tribes in the face of an increasingly homogenised
Paul Dale, The List
'Drysdale injects her writing with both wit
and humour. Not only is the novel a bravely personal
account of her physical and spiritual journey, it
also captures perfectly the foibles and idiosyncrasies
of these different peoples.'
Kate Seabrook, Wanderlust
'Claustrophobic and exhilarating, her book
reveals a picture of Europe as far removed from Brussels
and the trials of the Euro as imaginable.'
Carolyn Hart, Marie Claire
‘It’s the quirky combination of family
adventure and quasi-academic project that give the
book its enthralling originality.’ The Guardian
‘Moving neatly between research and analysis
of the threatened communities, and graphic, often
funny descriptions of the family’s experiences
as motorised nomads, Drysdale’s book proves
that our own continent, like others, has hidden tribes
worth discovering.’ Sunday Times paperbacks
‘A marvellous book that is wide-eyed with
enthusiasm and solid in its research on the history
of language and movement of peoples. Oh – and
they took their baby and three-year-old with them.’ Observer
acute eye and unfailing sympathy for tribal tradition
make this an enjoyable
and moving tale.’ Independent on Sunday