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Tour: 27. Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman...

February 26, 2010
It's yet another tour day! This one's for Susan Jane Gilman's Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven, which I wanted to read just because they traveled to CHINA, and I've always wanted to. But I was too chicken, so I'm living vicariously through someone else's memoir...

FTC Disclosure: My copy of Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven was provided by Hachette Book Group for this blog tour. I am an IndieBound and Amazon affiliate, and any purchases made by clicking on the cover or the links provided may result in monetary compensation.

About the author:
SUSAN JANE GILMAN has written commentary for the New York Times, Ms., US, and the Los Angeles Times, among others. Winner of several literary awards for her fiction and essays, she is a native New Yorker who currently lives in "rent exile" in Washington, D.C.

Find Susan online at her website,

About the book:
In 1986, Susan Jane Gilman and a classmate embarked on a bold trek around the globe starting in the People's Republic of China. At that point, China had been open to independent backpackers for roughly ten minutes. Armed only with the collected works of Nietzsche and Linda Goodman's Love Signs, the two friends plunged into the dusty streets of Shanghai. Unsurprisingly, they quickly found themselves in over their heads--hungry, disoriented, stripped of everything familiar, and under constant government surveillance. Soon, they began to unravel--one physically, the other psychologically. As their journey became increasingly harrownig, they found themselves facing crises that Susan didn't think they'd survive. But by summoning strengths she never knew she had--and with help from unexpected friends--the two travelers found their way out of a Chinese heart of darkness.

Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven is a flat-out page-turner, and astonishing true story of naivete, friendship, and redemption told with Susan's trademark compassion and humor.

drey's thoughts:
Just finished reading Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven... And I'm still processing... Susan Jane Gilman's trip to China back in the 80's may have begun with rose-colored glasses, all innocence and naivete, but it definitely did not end that way. What started out as an adventure of self-discovery ends in stressed health and mental faculties.

But while it made me glad I didn't visit China in the 80's--due to lack of basic facilities that I am rather fond of--I loved Susan's depictions of the basics of navigating around China. The visas, friendship stores, travel planning, public transportation, health care... The lack of basic facilities that you'd expect if you've only lived in the western world. The fascination that the people would have for someone who looked so completely and totally different from themselves. The feeling of being a fish out of water, in a culture so foreign and so different from anything you've ever known, reminds me of my solo journey to the good ol' US of A, even if I came for college, and without a backpack.

As I mentioned above, China is one of the countries that I'd really like to visit. But I'm too old to do it backpacking, which I am not ashamed to admit! I will so not have issues checking in to the Hilton!

Want to travel to the very far east from the comfort of your living room or favorite chair? Well, then pick this up!

drey's rating: 4/5 Excellent

Title: Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven
Author: Susan Jane Gilman
ISBN-13: 9780446696937
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, 2010
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon

Challenges: 100+

Thanks to Hachette Book Group, I have one copy of Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven for you! Just fill out the form if you live in the US or Canada (no PO Boxes, please!), and do it before 6:00 pm CST March 11th!


Susan Jane Gilman said...

Thank you so much for the terrific review. I continue to travel -- though, like you, I now no longer have any hang-ups about checking into a Hilton when the situation calls for it! If you care to read about my continuing adventures, please do check out my blog, "A View from A Broad" at

Enjoy the ride, and thank you so much for reading.

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

This memoir sounds fascinating and kind of mysterious. I will have to read this one. Some memoirs are not very interesting but this one sounds intriguing. Great review!

Anonymous said...

This book is everywhere today and it definitely sounds like it should be. I've placed it on hold at my library. Thanks for sharing!

bermudaonion said...

I liked this book a lot, too, and I'm with you and the Hilton! Great review!

Karen H said...

After reading the blurbs about this book, it is definately going on my BTB list!

Icedream said...

This book has been on my wishlist but I loved your review. Definately not how I would want to deal with a trip to China- but I would probably be the one with stressed mental facilities.

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