After graduating from Brown, Susan Jane Gilman and an acquaintance she calls Claire (Gilman changed identifying features and the girl’s name) embark on an around the world trip that starts with a brief stop in Hong Kong before heading to China, which had only just opened up to tourists. They planned to see many other countries on their journey, but their plans are dramatically derailed in China. The pair is fortunate in that others (both Chinese citizens and fellow travelers) are sympathetic and help; this is in contrast to their own behavior which is quite selfish when they start their adventure.
As always, Gilman creates a vivid picture about a segment of her life. When they escape the Guilin airport, the tension is high and excellently described. As the cover pull quote from O Magazine says, Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven is “unputdownable.” I stayed up far too late in order to finish the book because I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep anyway until I knew what happened with Claire.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Grand Central Publishing.
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