Halfway to Venus: A One-Armed Journey by Sarah Anderson - review by John Keay

John Keay

Savouring the Exotic

Halfway to Venus: A One-Armed Journey


Umbrella Books 264pp £12.99

In the early 1980s Sarah Anderson started the Travel Bookshop in London’s Notting Hill. Her timing was impeccable. Coinciding with a surge in travel writing, tumbling air fares and a new generation of guidebooks, the shop became a rite of passage. Its shelves were where you checked out the competition before heading off to Heathrow. Anderson’s endorsement was as good as a visa. Her discerning eye and Sloaney glamour lent respectability to the whole genre. The premises in Blenheim Crescent had grown into an institution long before they provided Richard Curtis with the setting for the film Notting Hill. 

‘Travel’ as defined by Anderson embraced ‘all books about other countries’ – biographical, anthropological, historical or fictional. ‘My idea was to have everything about a country side by side on the same shelf’, she explains. She herself was always just back from somewhere; for a while she wore saffron, the

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