“Unfailingly interesting and even revelatory….. Reading about the unfettered freedom to roam enjoyed by these trailblazing women induced considerable vicarious pleasure—and envy.” Wall Street Journal
“A fascinating, deeply thoughtful read.” Star Tribune
Windswept: Walking in the Footsteps of Remarkable Women marks Abbs’s first foray into memoir and biography. Acquired at auction by Two Roads (an imprint of John Murray) in the UK, Tin House in the US, Penguin Random House in Germany and publishers in France, Holland and Italy, Windswept is a feminist exploration of walking in wild landscapes. Here Abbs examines the role of non-urban walking on the lives, writings and art of several women including Gwen John, Frieda Lawrence, Nan Shepherd, Georgia O’Keeffe and Simone de Beauvoir, alongside a good smattering of audacious but entirely forgotten women. As she walks their paths – the empty plains of Texas, the mountains of Scotland, the rivers and forests of France – Abbs looks back at her own walking childhood in remote Wales and asks why women have been overlooked in the ‘literature of the leg’ and of nature writing.
“A compelling, erudite book that mixes travel memoir with tantalising oblique biography.” Saga Magazine
“[A] beautiful and meditative memoir. This lush narrative serves as the perfect excuse to get moving.” Publisher’s Weekly.
“This should be read by all women and [by all] those who love the outdoors.” Booklist.
“Exhilarating.” Country Walking
“Fascinating and deeply thoughtful.” Star Tribune.
“Brilliant… clever, clever Annabel.” Postcards from Midlife.
“A gorgeous and revelatory blend of memoir, travelogue, and long-forgotten history, Abbs is a witty and engaging guide, seamlessly weaving her own experience with those of her “walking women,” all of whom discovered that the simple act of taking one step at a time can be the most powerful—and defiant—of all.” Abbott Kahler, New York Times bestselling author of The Ghosts of Eden Park
“Amazing… lovely, haunting, inspiring and so well done.” Professor Amy Von Lintel, author of The Wartime Texas Letters of Georgia O’Keeffe, and Georgia O’Keeffe Watercolours.
“A triumph … I felt as though I were being lifted, carried up to peaks.” Charlotte Peacock, author of Into the Mountain: A Life of Nan Shepherd.
“I love how the act of walking connects the lives of these women—and how it transforms them. It makes me want to go for a hike just to see what happens. Windswept satisfies my endless appetite for untold stories of women’s history, filling important gaps and bringing their stories into light.” Mia Kankimäki, author of Women I Think About At Night.
“I couldn’t put it down…The interweaving of different chronologies, the lives of these fascinating women, with scientific information about the value of walking is incredibly deft. The humour, the very prescient section on women’s unsafe walking in public, sexual harassment, the chapter headings like Victorian novels, the sac a dos as walking companion, the range: menstruation, mothering, art, literature sexuality and more! Quite extraordinary. And yet written in such a free flowing, readable style. I’m in awe.” Maggie Humm, author of Talland House, Washington Independent Review of Books ‘51 Favorite Books of 2020.