‘She wondered where he originated from. Everyone was from somewhere. Olivia loved discovering people’s stories, and they were plentiful in these foreign surroundings.’ – excerpt from Desert Skies, Rebel Souls
Olivia is our Danish female lead who goes off to live and work in a kibbutz in Israel in a journey of self discovery and encounters adventure, culture and love all in one trip! (Not a bad trip I would say)
What did I think?
This book will want to make you travel to Israel, Jordan and Egypt in a heartbeat. So many people travel to ‘find themselves’ and we are taken on Olivia’s journey where she leaves her own world behind and enters one radically different to her own. Tonnessen does well to really capture the essence of the places Olivia visits as she describes them aptly to transport you into the scene with her. I recall one scene when Olivia visits Saint Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai and I could see myself with her taking in the details of the church and enjoying the peacefulness of it all. Churches are always places I love to visit on my travels and I could really put myself in Olivia’s shoes which is such a skill of an author to do!
I’m gonna admit I don’t read love stories, I usually want to reach for the vomit bucket but I wasn’t inclined to do that in any way here. This romance changes Olivia’s very thinking and is part of her journey of self discovery and what she can handle in life. There is a saying that goes ‘I’m a movement by myself, but I am a force when we’re together’ and this certainly applies to Olivia and Chaim’s love story.
I think those with a wanderlust heart will certainly enjoy the book. You just feel you are on this adventure with Olivia. I remember nodding my head in agreement with Olivia as she expresses her concerns over handing her passport over when crossing the border ( I share similar anxiety issues about it) and her reflections over the temporary friendships formed on your travels, where they share those wonderful exploratory experiences yet are most likely never to meet again, something I too always ponder over when I meet new people on my travels.
Meet the author
M.P. Tonnessen hails from Denmark but has lived in Brussels, London and the Middle East hence her love of travel is not missing in her novels. She now lives in the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea so I thought to ask her a few questions about herself.
Did you ever take a “finding yourself” journey similar to Olivia, be it intentionally or unintentionally and to where was it?
20 years ago (I’m showing my age here!) I took off on a journey from Denmark to the Middle East just like Olivia. My journey took me down a different path than that of my female protagonist. Yet it was still an eye-opening experience, particularly as I too was just a young girl exploring the world on my own for the first time. Israel, Jordan and Egypt are fascinating countries with so much history present you can feel it everywhere you go. I spent most of my time in Israel where I lived in a kibbutz. It gave me an insight into the local culture which I could not have obtained by just travelling through. The holiday traditions, the food, the language – it is only by living within a community you are able to get under its skin. I wish I could have spent longer time there, and I hope to be able to return one day.
I did not intentionally set out to find myself, but I discovered a lot about my own norms and values by seeing them unfold juxtaposed to those of others. Travelling gives you invaluable perspective – on the big and the little things in life. I realised how protected and privileged a life I was living – despite not being the rich, upper class girl Olivia is. We have opportunities as young people – particularly young women – in this part of the world which we should never take for granted. We are not forced to fight or kill. We do not have to worry about imminent risks of war. We can walk (relatively) freely in the streets without harassment. I treasure everything I learnt on my journey till this day, as well as the memories of the stunning and awe-inspiring sights and scenery which I was lucky to explore. I hope my novel will help more people appreciate the beauty and wonders of this region.
Share a picture of your favourite natural place on the Isle of Man (I hear it’s beautiful) and tell me what you love about that particular spot.
The bay of Port Erin in the south has been my favourite spot on the island since we came here. There is something comforting about the bay being so sheltered, but it is the beauty of the whole scene that takes your breath away. We go there on summer days to enjoy the sandy beach and on winter days for a refreshing stroll. You can walk up on the headland too. It’s called Bradda Head and on the tip you can see Milner’s Tower. It’s a good hike up there and the views towards the bay are stunning.
So, where can you purchase the book?
Happy travelling through the pages of this book!
The 5 to 9 Traveller