At thirty nine Rachael Weiss had something of a midlife jolt - failing to live up to her promise as gifted (based on a test when she was six), single, "shredded" by corporate life, only moderately successful as a writer, and a hopeless failure in comparison to her podiatrist sister and lawyer brother, Rachael decided to take a year away from her familiar Australian home and move to her father's homeland. What follows is an account of her plan (a year away from it all to write the Great Australian Novel, discover who she really is, and possibly find exotic love) and her life (the worst customer service on the planet, the frustration of not knowing a word of Czech, and discovering who she really is).
I was swayed by this paragraph from the back page blurb: "They make it seem so easy, those women who write of uprooting themselves from everything they know, crossing the world and forming effortless friendships with strangers - despite not understanding a word they say - while reinventing themselves in beautiful European cities. So it's not surprising Rachael is completely unprepared for the realities that confront her."
Not uniquely, I have on occasion fantasised about upping sticks and taking off - an activity wholly antithetical to my life thus far, and I have respect for those souls sufficiently courageous to do it (while still reserving dislike of the oft-paired trait of excessive self obsession and wanky 'deep' introspection). Weiss manages to almost entirely avoid the wanky aspect, and her account is honest and engaging.
That said, I'm not quite sure what all the hype's about. It was pleasant, made me keenly aware that expecting a warm reception in Prague is a waste of time, and increased my knowledge about many aspects of post-war history and it's effects on the group psychology of a population. Was it the best thing I've read? Not even this week. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't great. I'm glad I read it, and might recommend that wanderlusty friends read it, but it's not something I'll need to revisit. I didn't even - as has been my habit since we started this blog - note anything while reading it that I wanted to include in the review. If Me, Myself & Prague were a colour it would be faintest baby pink - not beige, but not anything to write home about. - Alex