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  • By Anne Kaye
    Aug 8, 2011
    Liz McQuilken, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia has asked me to upload this review of Virginia's Diary on her behalf. I like everything about this book: the clarity of layout; the maps showing each stage of the journey; the photographs of spectacular scenery and of a young travelling family; even the design of the cover with its teasing touch of sepia. But most of all I like the story. This is no ordinary travel book. It is an account of an adventure, a voyage taken by a family of five in 1975 in a single-engine Cessna: from the United States to Australia, via Europe and the Middle East. It has two main narrators: the pilot, Robin Frith, and his late wife, Virginia, who wrote in her diary as they travelled. It also includes comments by their three children as they look back more than thirty years later on the journey, and how it had such a profound influence on their young lives. The details of flying half way round the world will delight any flying enthusiast. Although some of the... More > technical aspects were beyond my understanding, I never lost interest in the narrative. This is because Frith paces his story well and makes every episode spring to life in the retelling. In the early chapters, where he describes the thorough planning that took place –which route to take, which aircraft to choose, how much fuel to take, what kind of radio communication –I almost felt I was there, making decisions with him and Virginia. He also manages to present the past in context with the present, reminding the reader of political changes that have taken place in the last thirty years. He writes with the ease of a man who, thirty years before, had confidence in his own ability to take his family on such an ambitious trip. Interspersed with his precise, uncluttered style is Virginia’s meticulous reporting. It was she who looked at costs of accommodation and meals, saw to the practical chores of washing clothes, noted when the children were becoming tired and irritable. She observed with fresh eyes geographical features and cultural differences whenever their plane touched down in a new region; and she loved to delve into historical facts and folklore when the family went sightseeing, mostly on their bicycles. The book shows truly remarkable teamwork between a husband and wife. Virginia wrote in her diary of her faith in her husband: I absolutely believe in Robin’s capability as a pilot. He has just the right mixture of aggressiveness and caution in his make-up. In his dedication, Frith writes: To Virginia, an extraordinary wife and mother, without whose support and talent in helping me envision this trip, the adventures in this book would not have been possible. I highly recommend this book: to light aircraft-flying buffs, to seasoned travellers, to those with young families who are thinking of overseas travel (though such a journey these days would not be possible), or to any armchair traveller. Liz McQuilkin< Less
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Product Details

Robin and Virginia Frith
May 21, 2011
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
0.68 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
6 wide x 9 tall
Product ID
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