Helena Drysdale

Mother Tongues

Travels through Tribal Europe, published in hardback by Picador 2001

To be published in paperback by Picador 11 October 2002

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 companions.'
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 tongue.'
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 the Year'

 '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 world.'
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

‘Drysdale’s acute eye and unfailing sympathy for tribal tradition make this an enjoyable and moving tale.’ Independent on Sunday

© Helena Drysdale 2006
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