Helena Drysdale


Mother Tongues
Travels through Tribal Europe,

Published in hardback by Picador 2001
To be published in paperback by Picador 11 October 2002

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Helena Drysdale and her husband Richard rented out their South London home and embarked on an epic eighteen-month journey across Europe. With them went their two infant daughters.

They had no plans but they did have a goal: to probe the secrets of Western Europe's indigenous tribes. What drives the Basques' fight for independence? Why are the Corsicans so volatile and the North Frisians so lonesome? Who are the Sami? The Alanders? The Ladin? Mother Tongues reveals the struggles of these peoples to stave off extinction in an increasingly homogenised world.

This beautiful book delves not only into the highs and lows of peripatetic family life, but digs deeper into the very nature of the powerful bond between language and identity that affects us all, whether we know it or not.

'If you still have doubts about the relevance of travel writing in the 21st century, this book will satisfy them.'
Anthony Sattin, Sunday Times

Prologue: Searching for the Sautso Canyon (Norway); 1. Prouvenco, ma Patrio (Provence, France); 2. War-torn borderlands (Alsace, France); 3. The Aland Islands (Finland); 4. Samiland (Finland, Norway & Sweden); 5. The First Word; 6. Friesland (Denmark, Germany & The Netherlands); 7. Flemish v Walloon (Belgium); 8. Who is Bernardo Atxaga? (Basque Country, Spain & France); 9. A Time of Inconvenience at an Inconvenient Time (Catalonia, Spain & France); 10. Vendetta (Corsica, France); 11. Bandit Country (Sardinia, Italy); 12. Macedoine (Greece & FYROM); 13. South Tyrol & the Ladin (Italy); 14. The World Bitch (Brittany, France).

© Helena Drysdale 2006
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