Harriet’s parents hoped that after leaving boarding school and doing ‘the Season’ she would meet and marry a suitable young man. But she was to disappoint them. Just after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan she set off for the North-West Frontier of Pakistan to see for herself the plight of thousands of displaced Afghan refugees. Determined to do something about their dire situation, Harriet set up a small silk weaving project for illiterate Turkoman refugees and was sent by UNESCO to Mazar-i-Sharif to work with Afghanistan’s last remaining silk ikat weavers. During those years she was arrested by the KHAD, narrowly missed being blown up, survived acute bacterial meningitis in a Kabul hospital and rescued an abandoned pi-dog who became her devoted companion. In 1994 she joined a group of unemployed builders driving convoys of food and aid from Croydon to the Muslim enclaves in Bosnia Herzegovina. Much has been written about conflicts in these countries by war correspondents, diplomats and military personnel but this is a different story. It is about a young woman travelling and working alone in and around war zones, frequently with no financial or practical support, at a time of increasing Islamic fundamentalism.
What people say about the book
“I absolutely loved this book, could hardly put it down. Harriet Sandys reaches the very pinnacle of what travelling can really be and I learned from and loved every chapter. An exciting and beautifully written journey, coloured all the way by the actions and insights of this very courageous, kind and thoughtful traveller.” Customer
Shades of Hester Stanhope and Florence Dixie. It made me laugh; it made me cry; it made me want to reach across the page and tell you everything would be alright.I had that lovely feeling when you are enjoying a book of looking forward to the next day; I had that sense of loss when it was finished. You write dispassionately about awful things without saying they are awful which makes them more so. M.K
I have read the first 60 pages and have to tell you that I couldn’t put it down. I am just settling down to spend this evening reading on. JMcB
Your book is absolutely amazing. Love all your descriptions of the places that you have travelled to – one can just smell the atmosphere, the spices, and hear the sounds, feel the heat, so much so, that you feel you are there. Your experiences in some cases absolutely hair-raising and amazed that you survived. Your illness must have been an atrocious, horrible time for you but how wonderful that you had so many friends bringing in little gifts for you to help you get better. One of the best books that I have read, couldn’t put it down, I would recommend it to anyone to read. J.G.
Your descriptions of the country through which you travelled, the bazaars, the hardship faced by by-standers in war zones and the damage done to ancient irreplaceable sites in all the war zones make the reader cognizant of matters we all read of through the period but probably had little sensitivity to in the midst of our own busy lives. All in all, an excellent read. D.D.