Hear the true story of a young woman who ditched everything she knew to become a cook in the coldest place on earth: Antarctica.
Imagine you are a young woman with a stellar career but an increasing dissatisfaction with life. Imagine that your idea of a "remote location" is the distance between a taxi rank and a shoe shop. How do you shrug off your growing ennui? Simple: You apply for the position of cook in the coldest place on earth: Antarctica.
Antarctica lends itself to tales of adventure and heartbreak. The landscape is polarized, beautiful and deadly in equal measure. But Alexa doesn't scale mountains or trek to the Pole. Instead, armed with an old cookbook, she attempts to create three-course meals with no electricity or running water and struggles to defrost meat in sub-zero temperatures. Life in a thin nylon tent in the company of scientists, explorers, and eccentrics soon begins to take on extraordinary dimensions. As 120-kilometre-an-hour winds blow and tensions rise, friendships - and love -are forged in this frozen neighborhood.
©2005 Alexa Thomson; (P)2005 Bolinda Publishing Pty. Ltd.
"Antarctica on a Plate is an exuberant memoir. From her one-man tent pitched on the ice, Thomson graphically recounts the physical and emotional impact of living in a tiny, tent community. And finding love among the snowdrifts is no bad thing, either." (Vogue)
This might be an adequate book for the twenty-something crowd or the teenie boppers, but it is largely tedious, laden with self-pity and complaint over the living conditions. She exaggerates her qualifications to get a cooking job for an Antarctic outfitter, then frets that she isn't able to do it very efficiently. Those who dine at her table apparently find the fare adequate in quality, if sometimes shy in quantity. I listened to this book as an audio book and found there were a few adequate moments, but most of it was whine, whine, whine. Want some cheese with that?
She did fall in love with the Antarctic landscape and offers some great descriptive passages. The book culminates with her falling in love with a married man who runs a weather station. She stews over the ethics of falling in love with someone who is already spoken for, then goes right ahead and does it.
"Big Dead Place: Inside the Strange and Menacing World of Antarctica" is a much better account of living and working in arctic conditions. "Icebound" is another book that deserves your attention. Anthony Bourdain has nothing to fear from this flaky chick and her culinary capers.
I am an adventure books junkie, and this one ranks well up there. It has all the 'city gal out of place' that makes for a fun read. She's no Carrie Bradshaw though, and does well replacing her Manolos with snow boots. Though lacking the technical info you get from Jon Krakauer, and the gut splitting hilarity you get from Bill Bryson, this book is touching and the autor's tone is inclusive and embracing. You feel like a member of her crew, not someone listeneing to the story years later. She writes with verve and spark. She is sufficiently new to her surroundings but this is not a rambling "how did I get myself into this?" rant. The only thing really missing from this book is Antarctica. She could have been anywhere remote and told this story. The landscape, the ice, the sky, these are benched in place of flights to the nearest camp to visit the russians for more supplies (vodka and fuel), and the horrors of not bathing for months on end. Because of the location of this base camp, there are no animals, no real features to speak of, and as her role as cook she spends most of her time inside feeding those that come and go. But they are an interesting group and her shortcomings and culinary triumphs in the land of no electricity, and meat thats been buried in ice for 3 years, are light hearted and fun to listen to.
But it's a good fun story that easily hooks you into listening further.
Sure, there is some whinging and moaning about the conditions that the writer finds herself in, but I think that this is somewhat exagerated by the Australian accent of the reader which has the distinctive up-rising inflection at the end of sentances, which makes almost everything seem like a question.
In all, I found this audio-book to be a light, entertaining story. Perfect for summer trips, or lazing about in bed on a Sunday morning.
I have recently become hooked on Arctic/Antarctic adventure stories and while there have been some that are indeed quite interesting, none of them come close to Alexa Thomson's tale!
Most of us will never be a scientist or an explorer, yet it IS possible to live in Antarctica for months on end as a Regular Joe!
As "regular" people most of us would want to know EXACTLY what Alexa tells us in her memoir ~ blunt, vivid descriptions of Polar life such as bathing, getting drunk, flirting & using the toilet. John Glenn once remarked that he gets more questions about how he went to the bathroom in outerspace than anything else. Alexa's tale is like that!
I honestly learned far more about life in the Polar Regions from Alexa than from Shackleton, Amundson or Scott!
What a fantastic experience and wonderfully portrayed to us the readers. i felt the cold with her, the fear and the laughter was life like. i enjoyed this book immensely
I really liked hearing about life in Antarctica, but I grew to despise this woman. I'm not sure I've ever disliked someone in a story so much. I also did not like her writing style, I felt like she was trying too hard to sound like a good writer instead of someone telling a good story. I did like hearing about Antarctica, but I think I'd have enjoyed anyone else's stories from there more than hers... not a huge selection of recent stories from Antarctica on audible though.
Very entertaining audio book - vicarious adventure to follow a woman who 'chucks it all' to live in a harsh place for a season. Clever writing and engages the reader. The australian accent of the reader was a bit annoying - but the story was great.
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