Review: Travels With My Hat by Christine Osborne

Review Travels With My HatSPR Awards Non-Fiction Winner “Travels With My Hat” reviewed by SPR editor Cate Baum.

Christine Osborne is a travel photographer who has dedicated her entire life to capturing on film what it is to live on Planet Earth. Tracing a line through the Middle East and Africa, into countries that might be thought of by most to be “scary” destinations for a slim, blonde woman, Christine jumped in feet first with her Australian roots to help her along,  in her trusty blue hat and a camera her constant companion.

This book is written so well because Christine has lived these details, these colors, these characters. There is no substitute for writing what you know, and when what you know is this interesting and exhilarating, combined with the writer being one of the most extraordinary people I think I have ever come across, it’s no mystery that this book is mindblowingly brilliant.

The Queen with Saudi King Khalid, 1979
The Queen with Saudi King Khalid, 1979

From her relationship with the Queen of England, who, when their paths crossed in Oman said to her,  “I was looking everywhere for your blue hat”, to swimming with belly dancing squid in the Red Sea, the writing is what you might expect from a photographer: descriptive to the point of making you wildly envious and dying to be in that scene – and moreover, be Christine. A scene from Chapter 7 illustrates this,

…The Café Lemsid looked like a giant sweet that had fallen off a desert transport. Caramel and raspberry red, it sat by the roadside surrounded by the detritus of civilization: burst tyres, perished fan-belts, broken fish-traps and empty port-a-gas cylinders. A blanket was stuffed in a hole in the wall to keep out windblown sand. To nomads, however, it was the Sainsbury’s of the Sahara…

It’s not just the writing that captivates: it’s not just the stories that hypnotize – it’s the photos. Christine’s passion for detail and color accomplishes something only great travel photographers touch on: narrative. Social issues ring out and are highlighted by her work. Whole back stories are told in one image.

Christine gets a makeover
Christine gets a makeover from Masai women, 1976

Travels With My Hat inspires not only women everywhere, but really anyone breathing in and out to get living and see the world. Instead of buying little girls a copy of the insipid Twilight or some “princess”-based book, it should be mandatory that all parents buy a copy of this to drive a teenage girl’s ambition. It’s crazy-makingly tantalizing to think “all this and more awaits anyone who dares set forth.” It’s enough to make anyone set aside fantasy novels of tribal princes, medieval castles and magical creatures – because Christine proves they exist here, right under our noses.

Christine in an incense souk, Oman
Christine in an incense souk, Oman

SPR ROSETTEcirclenonFictionhiThis book, one day, will absolutely be swiped up by a film studio somewhere and made into a fantastic biopic as brilliant as “Out of Africa” or “Born Free.” Please, someone, do it! Marvelous, magical and peerless.

Christine’s Website Interactive Preview of the book

For a signed copy of the book, order here  

You can also find Christine’s book for sale on our Bookshelf  from all major retailers online


Review Overview