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Ella K. Maillart: The Cruel Way

Ella K. Maillart: The Cruel Way

Switzerland to Afghanistan in a Ford, 1939. USA 2013, 218 pp., brochure,  17.95
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University of Chicago Press
Following Ella K. Maillart's 1939 journey with fellow writer Annemarie Schwarzenbach from Geneva to Kabul in a brand-new Ford, »The Cruel Way« reveals Maillart to be an author of astonishing talent. As the two flash across Europe and the Near East in a streak of élan and daring, Maillart writes of comical mishaps, breathtaking landscapes, vitriolic religious clashes, and the ingenuity with which the women navigated what was often a dangerous journey. While the core of the book is the journey itself and their interactions with people oppressed by political conflict and poverty, toward the end of the trip the women's increasingly troubled relationship takes center stage. By then the glamorous, androgynous Schwarzenbach, whose own account of the trip can be found in »All the Roads Are Open«, is fighting a losing battle with drug addiction, and Maillart's frustrated attempts to cure her show the depth of their relationship.
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