Travel and Leisure

by Tom Crowley

Koehler Books, 2021, 190 pages.[email protected]

           I am more disheartened as of late at the inhumanity of most people around the world. The “Me first, you last – Just take your silly little problem down the hall and Get it away from me” attitudes are both grating and depressing. Especially during these dark days when charity, a helping hand, altruistic motives, understanding, and humanitarian gestures are needed the most. The supply of all the above appears to be rapidly evaporating everywhere you look.

           Then comes along a real gem of a book, Mercy’s Heroes. Although it contains some vignettes of heart wrenching, gut punching (or actually soul punching) inhumanity, it also contains many snippets of real hope, authentic caring and genuine selflessness. Tom Crowley has done a real service to us all in bringing the plight of the Klong Toey slum denizens to a wider audience and, hopefully, more open wallets and donations. He should be highly commended for his literary skills and his noble service to the less fortunate.

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Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2019, 296 pages,

In my opinion, political scientists in the west have it so easy. Only three branches of government, two main political parties, the rest is just intramural spectator sports. But here in Thailand, political scientists are always completely exhausted – five branches of government (monarchy, military, legislative, judicial, and executive), an ever-changing kaleidoscope of multiple political parties, new-and-improved constitutions and laws, all combined with professional political contact sports including sharp elbows thrown (and always ready smiles). A winner-take-all view prevails on obtaining power.

James Wise has done all of us a great service in dissecting Thai politics with a highly readable, scholarly, and intelligently presented work. He has a lot of ground to cover but adroitly manages it by possessing an expert’s eye, an astute insider’s take on all things political here and a wheelbarrow-load of academic and scholarly research.

The author makes seemingly impenetrable, always confusing Thai politics clear and understandable. His book should be widely read, and he should be commended for it.

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This is an urgent dispatch with official updates about Test and Go as sent to me by the Consular Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

As you probably have heard by now, the prime minister announced this afternoon the suspension of the Test and Go scheme. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of misinformation about this which has led to much confusion. A senior official at the Consular Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs just called me to set the record straight about what is really happening. But first I will paste below their official announcement. Then I will add my own notes from the telephone call.


Thailand Pass will be closed for all new Test and Go and Sandbox applications (except Phuket Sandbox), starting from 00.00 hrs. on 22 December 2021 until further notice.
New measures apply for all applicants on Thailand Pass, as follows; 
Applicants who have received their Thailand Pass QR Code can enter Thailand under the scheme they have registered.
Applicants who have registered, but have not received their QR Code must wait for their Thailand Pass to be considered / approved. Once approved, they can enter Thailand under the scheme they have registered.
New applicants will not be able to register for Test and Go and Sandbox measures (except Phuket Sandbox). Thailand Pass will only accept new applicants seeking to enter Thailand under Alternative Quarantine (AQ) or Phuket Sandbox only.
Passengers who will arrive in Thailand under Test and Go and Sandbox Programme must undergo their 2nd COVID-19 test using the RT-PCR technique (not ATK self-test) at government-designated facilities (no additional cost).
Thailand Pass will be closed for all new Test and Go and Sandbox applications (except Phuket Sandbox), starting from 00.00 hrs. on 22 December 2021 until further notice.
New measures apply for all applicants on Thailand Pass, as follows; 
1. Applicants who have received their Thailand Pass QR Code can enter Thailand under the scheme they have registered.
2. Applicants who have registered, but have not received their QR Code must wait for their Thailand Pass to be considered / approved. Once approved, they can enter Thailand under the scheme they have registered.
3. New applicants will not be able to register for Test and Go and Sandbox measures (except Phuket Sandbox). Thailand Pass will only accept new applicants seeking to enter Thailand under Alternative Quarantine (AQ) or Phuket Sandbox only.
4. Passengers who will arrive in Thailand under Test and Go and Sandbox Programme must undergo their 2nd COVID-19 test using the RT-PCR technique (not ATK self-test) at government-designated facilities (no additional cost).

Do Not Panic!

To be clear, this is NOT a closure of the borders. It is just a suspension of the Test & Go and the Blue Zone Sandbox (except for Phuket Sandbox) schemes. Everything else will continue as normal. 
First the good news, if you are one of 22,000 people who have already applied for a Thailand Pass for Test & Go, Sandbox and Alternative Quarantine, your application is still being processed. If your application is approved, you will be able to come under the original conditions. This means, for Test & Go people, you only need to wait for the results for the first test and then you are free to go. No 7-day quarantine like some media outlets were saying. But you will need to do a second RT-PCR test on Day 7. More on that in a moment. 
The bad news is that if your application is rejected after midnight, then you are out of luck. You will need to enter via the Phuket Sandbox or hotel quarantine schemes.
Secondly, the Thailand Pass system is still open for Test & Go applications. So, be quick as you could make it before the midnight deadline. After that time, they will no longer take applications for Test & Go and for Sandbox areas outside of Phuket.
One very important piece of information that the Thai media got wrong is the cut-off date for arriving in Thailand. Basically, there isn’t one. Earlier, the media were saying you must arrive before 10th January if you didn’t want to do quarantine. That is not true. You can arrive on the date that was approved on your application. For example, if you said you are arriving on 25th January, then you still can use Test & Go and only wait one night for the test results.
Many people were asking that if they arrived under Test & Go tomorrow, do they have to do the second RT-PCR test on Day 7. The quick answer to that is no. This is because it is not law yet. The prime minister must first sign the papers and then it must be published in the Royal Gazette. So, if it was published in the gazette on Friday, then anyone arriving on Friday onwards, must do the second test on Day 7. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this will be free. More details on this soon.
So, does this mean there is no Test & Go in the future? No, that is not true as it is just temporarily suspended. In early January, they will re-evaluate the situation and there will be a new announcement. 
If I have any further updates, I will post on my social media – Twitter and Facebook. Can I please ask you not to reply to this email with questions. I have already received two hundred emails today and I cannot keep up. Which is why I prefer to answer questions on social media where I can share the answers with everyone. Thanks for your understanding and good luck!
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A British Tragedy in Old Siam, by Simon Landy

River Books, 248 pages, [email protected]

Every country has historic dates that prominently stand out. These will forever be remembered as important turning points in the nation’s future. In the UK it is The Glorious First of June (1794); in the U.S. it is 4th July 1776; and in Thailand it is 17-18th May 1688.

We can add 18th April 1855 to that list. This was when the Bowring Treaty was signed between the UK and Thailand. The pact initiated an explosive increase in trade, cemented Thailand’s rise as an independent nation equal to any and brought in modernisation.

Simon Landy’s new book is a riveting, can’t out-it-down, detailed look at the events and people surrounding the treaty. A very important contribution to Thai and UK history; it is also professionally crafted, highly detailed and well researched look at events and personages surrounding it. It is remarkably even handed and insightful. The book is highly readable, most erudite, and very enjoyable. 

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Live your life uniquely under the embracement of 4 uniqueness of living at the VIVE, the spirit of modern living by the Land and Houses.


In the unique spirit of the modern minimalism, the VIVE represents a breakthrough in a sense of home through its sophisticated unity of modernity and nature. A daring architectural language that seeks completion in harmony with nature. The execution of this masterful design application is evident through the encapsulation of natural landscape in its impressive panoramic view of the living area at the double-volume height of 6.5 meters and with an expanded width of 12 meters. 

On a much private space, the ‘Double View Master Bedroom’ also opens to the landscape more than the conventional singularity and reflects as another genuine attempt to broadly connect with nature. The formal design vocabulary of the architectural façade is the automated-adjustable panels for a customized protection to both the sunlight and privacy.


An architectural language that lives beyond the stereotype of the conventional house for a unique expression of individuality. The VIVE celebrates all unique individuals with the ‘Identity Room’ to create the private world in your own language. This is achieved by the designation of the detached living unit in the midst of a lush garden. A sanctuary to return to who you are when the world outside just wants to change you.


The concept of ‘Lived and Touched by Nature’ allows every space to uniquely experience the connection with the garden of lush surroundings, and to provide that comfort of the natural light that is vital to our body. The application of ‘Open-Plan Concept’ interconnects all interior spaces with the precision to support each space for a harmonious balance between the active lifestyle and the passive relaxation.

On the outside, the openness of the double-courtyard designated to the house front opens up a versatile/multi-purposes spaces that connects the ‘Pave Active Court’ and ‘Green Passive Court’ to accommodate any desired activities. There is also an additional personal courtyard of resort ambience for the private getaway, 

Not to overlook is a sense of complete security via the ‘Home Automation’ system that puts full control under the use of smartphone. From the front gate, the air conditioning, light quality, to CCTV and many other safety features.


At VIVE, the emphasis in the design of clubhouse with the first-class facilities and the free – form swimming pool provide places to relax and socialize in this unique community. The VIVE also offers the extended connection to the best amenities within a short drive to shopping malls, schools, hospitals, as well as easy access to major roads and tollways network. 

The locations of the VIVE are now in 3 locations:

VIVE Ekkamai-Ramintra offers an exclusively designed 3-storeys detached houses with the starting price of 40 million baht. While other 2 locations, VIVE Bangna with the starting price of 30 million baht and VIVE Rattanathibet-Ratchaphruek with the starting price of 28 million baht both offer the options of 2 uniquely styles of 2-storeys house.

For more information please all 1198 or visit our website at

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Art and one’s appreciation of it must be one of the most subjective things around… I can remember when I was first introduced to painting. My father – who had been to art school, had finished a portrait of my mother, which was stunning.  I, as a five-year old said, “Who is that beautiful lady?” Which goes to prove just how subjective art is. My father had painted my mother from his heart, with all the love he had for her transferred onto the canvas by his elaborate brushstrokes. But a five-year-old boy could not equate his father’s vision with his own perception. He only saw his mother as… his mother.

When I was older I was reacquainted with this painting, and was able to see it in a different light. Yes, my mother was indeed beautiful, and had been made even more so by the portrayal of her as seen through my father’s eyes.

So, from an early age I had been introduced to art, and my love and appreciation of it has endured throughout my life. In Thailand for over three decades, as a writer or editor for several magazines, I am fortunate to have been able to follow my passion for art in the Kingdom, through having been invited to many exhibitions and galleries, and even becoming friends with some of the artists. Today I would like to introduce you to two of these souls. Two people coming from very different backgrounds, and giving us very different artistic creations to enjoy, when we visit their exhibitions or showings in galleries around town. Or even to purchase one of their pieces, to appreciate in the comfort of our own homes.

First up I would like to introduce you to Arash Groyan. Arash was born in Iran – known as Persia in ancient days in Teheran, where he studied art at university, gaining a B.A. and a Master’s. Arash told me that from a young age he had been inspired by ancient Persian mythology, which continues to stimulate him to this day, in particular from the poem Shahnameh. 

Shahnameh is an epic poem by Persian poet Ferdowsi, and can be likened to Homer’s Odyssey or Iliad, although it is considerably longer, comprising some 50,000 couplets. The influence this literary masterpiece has had on Arash can be seen in many of his paintings.

Arash Groyan is one of the best exponents in the world of painting Persian ‘miniatures’. He has, though, made Thailand his home since 2009 and says said he feels comfortable living here, he likes the feeling of freedom and easy pace of life, and has made many friends…  Thai, foreign, and those from both within and outside of the arts community. It is important, he told me, for an artist to feel comfortable in his or her surroundings, in order to encourage the creative juices to flow.

Arash said, “As an artist, I’m always active. 2020 was difficult, because of restrictions on travel and a lack of exhibitions due to the worldwide pandemic. But over the past three or four years I have participated in a number of exhibitions, both in Thailand and around the world. The highlight for me, though, has to be an exhibition in 2018, at the Louvre, Paris, that I was shown in. I sold some of my art there, too. An unforgettable moment for me to find acceptance in one of the most iconic and prestigious art museums in the world.”

I have been to several well attended exhibitions and gallery showings featuring the work of Arash and other foreign artists in Thailand. His quiet spoken demeanour as he explains about his latest pieces of artwork to the interested visitors is absorbing… he draws you into his world. But I have seen more to Arash, firsthand. Whilst being an undoubted expert at his own chosen field, Arash is also an erudite scholar. His knowledge of art surpasses all boundaries, and he surprised me, as I heard him answering questions about one of the pieces of art being shown in the gallery. The piece was not his own work, or had not even been created by one of his many friends from the arts community in Thailand. This was a painting new to him. Yet Arash was able to explain in detail about it. From the medium used, the brushstroke work, the technique, the lighting, et al. I don’t think the actual artist could have done a better job of explaining about the piece had they done it by themselves.  

Arash’ talents focus not only on miniature painting, but also include other areas such as Middle Eastern rug and carpet design, stage and set decoration, and jewellery design. Arash has also acted in several films and television series in Iran.

The arts community in Thailand is a close knit one, that I feel rewarded to have been accepted into. A friend of both myself and Arash from this eclectic grouping of talented people, is Leyla Sandshiko, hailing from Elista, not far from Moscow. She has been ferrying back and forth between Bangkok and Russia for the past eight years or so.

Leyla is a rather different kettle-of-fish to the softly spoken (yet passionate) Arash. This is a girl that stands out in a crowd! Diminutive she may be, but her colourful clothing with matching accessories, energetic selfie-taking, and seeming ability to be in two or three places at the same time make her an unmissable focal point of whichever gathering you see her at.

Leyla told me her academic background is very different from that of Arash, studying finance and accounting, following in the footsteps of her mother and father, and other family members who worked in the financial sector for the government, However, it was also her parents who infused her with a love of art. They took her along with them to art museums and galleries, which she loved, and never missed an opportunity to go to. Her mother and father also bought works of art for their home, so Leyla grew up surrounded by paintings, sculptures and other artistic ephemera. After a few years of working in the business sector as an accountant Leyla decided that the rather sombre world of  account ledgers and numbers was not really for her. Which comes as no surprise to anyone who knows her.

Leyla is a bundle of energy, and always stands out in her apparel wherever she goes. After leaving the financial world, she embraced her creative energies and entered the world of exhibition management. She put on events in Moscow and its surrounds that were memorable for their inventiveness, Being at the forefront of these exhibitions gave Leyla another opportunity to showcase her creative skills, Most of the clothes she wore to the opening parties were her own design. They were loud, colourful, wild, and original… as is their designer. The influential people attending the exhibitions put on by Leyla took notice of her clothing designs, and it was not long before Leyla was making money from sales of her clothing, her designs, and accessories to go with them. She had also found time to create her own art. Unsurprisingly she favours the abstract genre. She told me that when she is in the throes of creating her artwork (usually in the hours of darkness) she goes into another zone, and does not really know what she is doing. In the morning, when she wakes up, she is often surprised at what she sees on the canvases. ‘Bloody hell… where did that come from,’ she thinks.

When she came to Thailand eight years ago she naturally gravitated towards the arts community in Bangkok, and was soon a regular at art show openings, where she quickly made friends, and was soon being invited to more and more openings. She has also had several solo and group exhibitions of her own at galleries around Bangkok. The latest exhibition was in Bangkok in January, called ‘Counterpunch 2’. Leyla became interested in Muay Thai, after coming to live in Thailand and she says that studying and training in the Thai martial art has given her a new lease of life, and even more energy. 

Leyla explained, “The main message of this series of artworks is to never give up! Be strong! Find your passion and follow it. Be free and do what you love and what brings you joy. Never worry what others might think about you. Even if you feel completely broken, stand up over and over again and follow your dreams. Create instead of destroying. Remember that there is always a way out of any problem, always!”

In the annus horribilis of 2020 the art world, the leisure sector, and even the business sectors were sent reeling, thanks to the global spread of Covid-19. Hopefully in 2021 we will start to see a recovery. Things will not be back to normal anytime soon, but there are a few things to look forward to. 

Arash did not let the extra free time he found himself with in 2020 go to waste. He worked on his art, and this year he will be having two group exhibitions in Bangkok, and another exhibition in October at the Louvre. He is also developing teaching courses in Bangkok, working on his jewellery designs, and completing the production of his painting training video courses.

But the thing I am most looking forward to is the collaboration between these people of two very different personalities and artistic styles. 

Leyla and Arash have become firm friends. Leyla is going to unleash her wild spirit onto a few canvases, and no one knows what will come out of that, leastwise herself. She will then give her canvases to Arash, who will interpose his own Persian miniature artwork within the free spaces of Leyla’s abstract designs. Arash and Leyla (and myself) are both excited to see what comes out of this idea of Arash’s, as it’s a juxtaposition of styles that has never been tried before. Look out for it in early April, at a gallery near you. Check out Arash’ website, or the Facebook page of Leyla for showtime. Hope to see you there!

[email protected], @Lolis2001
FB: Leyla Sandshiko 

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I write this from the terrace of what could be a castle in a fairytale. A German Palace in the style of Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, or a French chateau in the wine region of the Loire. The expansive manicured gardens stretch out before me for as far as the eye can see and beyond them the valley of Khao Yai National Park.

The wind is fresh, clean and the skies are clear looking over the first tee of an 18 hole golf course at the Movenpick Khao Yai, probably one of the very best views that I, a country boy from England, have ever see in Thailand.

Set in 2,000 rai on the edge of the National Park 180kms – under three hours above Bangkok en route to Nakhon Ratchasima is the most beautiful white walled multi turreted classic hotel. Beauty like this is rarely seen in Thailand. I think that the owner must have visited France and Germany and seen similar buildings set in green and verdant lands and returned to Thailand with that vision in his mind. He then set about building it for the residents of Thailand.

Now here, Thailand’s residents can be whisked away to a land of dreams and fairytales. Natural beauty is no stranger to Thailand’s residents but this has been created or assisted in the most scenic of settings.

I was lucky enough to meet the French General Manager Benoit Metanomski and it was no surprise that the owners have chosen a European to lead his team of hospitality staff. The Movenpick brand is renowned for its excellence in cuisine and the food quality is first class. The chef Antonio …….. is Italian and his Thai Executive chef Amorn (Jackie) ……  have both worked in some of the best hotels in the world to reach this nirvana. 

The hotel was originally called My Ozone but 3 (?) years ago the management contract was awarded to Accor the French based international hotel giant. I truly cannot find the words to do justice to this beautiful edifice. A monument of design. It’s impressive entrance guarded from the hordes of Thai ‘instagramers’ that would surely plague the chosen few that have paid for such serenity.

Our room was immaculate and equipped with fresh white linen and towels, comfortable furniture and every luxury you would expect in a 5 star hotel. It was busy despite the lack of international tourists so obviously word has travelled fast and the domestic residents – both Thai and expats want to experience the luxuries of high society.

They are opening an Italian signature restaurant upstairs so I hope to visit again soon to sample the excellence but in the meantime I have pleasant memories of my all to brief visit and highly recommend a visit to explore the area, the flora and fauna and what must be a candidate for the cleanest air in Thailand. 

Movenpick Khao Yai 

334 Moo 6, Tambon Wangsai, Amphoe Pakchong, 30130 Nakorn Ratchasima, 04 400 9100

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The Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation recently presented its new book: Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation, an album celebrating years of projects nurturing good relations between Thailand and Belgium and helping the society. The new statue of Chao Phya Abhai Raja Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns, General Advisor of H.M. King Rama V was unveiled.

Count Gerald van der Straten Ponthoz, Chairman, M.R. Priyanandana Rangsit, Vice Chairman, and other board members of the foundation presented the book.  The luxury book of over 700 pages retraces 15 years of activities since the origins, with hundreds of pictures of many events and their distinguished guests.

An important chapter, written by M.R. Thepkamol Devakula, retraces the story of the work and achievements of Chao Phya Phya Abhai Raja Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns between 1892 and 1901, when he was a trusted advisor to the King and the Government of Siam, not only in the field of Law but also most other aspects related to the modernisation of the administration. Chao Phya Abhai Raja Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns is the only foreigner to have been bestowed upon the title of Chao Phya in the Rattanakosin era.

Besides preserving the memory of Chao Phya Abhai Raja Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns, the foundation also aims at helping the society and contributing to the good relations between Thailand and Belgium. Since its creation, the Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation has organised many projects and activities to help disadvantaged youngsters. These projects are all detailed in the book, such as the “People of the World Ceramic Project”, done in collaboration with a French sculptor, the “Hill tribe Violin Band”, organised together with a Belgian professional violinist, or even the construction of a whole football stadium to open opportunities to youngsters in the field of sports: the Chiang Rai Hills Stadium.

The Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation has also organised numerous activities to contribute in strengthening the good relations between Thailand and Belgium. In this regard, the foundation has hosted members of the royal families of Thailand, Belgium, and other countries, in its events.

An important chapter of the book retraces the visit of H.R.H. Princess Maria-Esmeralda of Belgium, who came to Thailand in 2015. The Princess was invited by the foundation to participate in the Thai-Belgian Friendship Celebrations. Several events were organised, including an exhibition, which was presided over by H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. A charity gala dinner was also hosted and was honoured by the presence of H.R.H. Princess Soamsawali Krom Muen Suddhanarithana, as well as numerous important guests of the Thai society.

The first visit of H.R.H. Princess Lea of Belgium to Thailand, in 2018, is also covered in this book. The Belgian princess was invited to attend the events celebrating the 150th anniversary of the bilateral relations. The chapter also includes countless pictures of the other activities, which the foundation organised for the Princess on that year. H.R.H. Princess Lea of Belgium made a second visit to Thailand in 2019. This time she attended the Simply Exceptional Gala Dinner, a glamorous event that celebrated Thailand, Belgium, and Lesotho, through their diamond and jewellery industries. Royals of no less than six countries, including the King and the Queen of Lesotho, as well as Princes and Princesses of Malaysia, Bhutan, and Russia, attended this event. On this occasion, M.L. Sarali Kitiyakara represented Princess Soamsawali Krom Muen Suddhanarinatha. Besides the gala dinner, H.R.H. Princess Lea also visited the provinces of Chiang Rai and Nan.

One of the greatest symbols of the Thai-Belgian friendship is the friendship between the two royal families, and especially between late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and late King Baudouin of Belgium. This historical symbol is also present in the book, with articles and many pictures of the commemorative events organised by the foundation. The new book about the activities of the Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation is very unique in more than one aspect. It is a non-commercial commemorative luxury book, which will be distributed as a gift only. But a particularity of this edition is that over one hundred personalities of the Thai and foreign societies have contributed to its publishing, by writing short or longer texts. These include quotes, memories or feelings, but also texts about the Thai-Belgian relations or the very diverse projects of the Foundation.

All of the contributors have been part of the history of the Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation, be it through their presence at the foundation’s events, or their direct participation in their organisation. This makes so that, as Count Gerald van der Straten Ponthoz likes to say, this book is “for everyone who has been part of the foundation’s story”, or for those who would like to know more about its activities.

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Wood Horse Press, 597 pages, 2016.

Leonard H. Le Blanc III

It is fascinating to note the eerie parallels between the current situation in the U.S. and Germany’s Weimar Republic during the 1920s. Overt racism, street thugs who brawl against opponents, law and order breakdown, the polarization of all political parties, financial turmoil, frequent social strife, the rise of demagogues, intolerance and intolerance and, in general, a whole society that is visibly disintegrating and rapidly sliding into chaos. That horrible situation allowed the rise of Adolph Hitler in the 1930s and Donald Trump, for four years, most recently. We know how Nazi Germany turned out.

Karen Schur-Narula has done us all a real, even important, service by revising Hitler’s Germany through the eyes of a young woman who was enraptured, even dazzled, by Adolph Hitler and blinded by her own unbreakable ambition. This grand literary effort is both a most impressive, sprawling historical tale and a close, intimate portrait of a very determined, extremely talented, headstrong young woman and her wrenching journey to enlightenment and truth. A very highly recommended read for all.

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by L. A. Naylor

Roots Books, 329 pages, 2019.

by Leonard H. Le Blanc III

I had a troubled childhood. To escape, I buried my face in books. The page turners I liked most effortlessly whisked me away to places I’d never been to and plunked me into situations I had never been in. These books grabbed me and took me right along for the free ride to a whole other, fascinating, undiscovered world. The narratives riveted my attention and held it to the end. I loved the journey. My woes, if temporarily, melted.

A. Naylor’s ‘The Land of Trees’ most definitely qualifies as one of those thrilling rides of grand imagination and inventive creativity. You can feel yourself as part of the conversation, or at least as a willing bystander. The prose is razor sharp, shamelessly witty, and remarkably perceptive. At its heart, it is a gritty detective story. A grand tale of determination, perseverance, and resiliency. The plot pacing never flags. It is easy to see the author knows their subject, so the book rings with perfect authenticity.  Enjoy!

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