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Publisher's Summary

The wonderful first novel from the critically acclaimed author of The Sleeper and The Sisterhood.

It's New Year's Day and the year isn't kicking off well for Tansy: her mother's dead, she's a cocaine addict and her boyfriend has just left her. A trip around the world seems like the only option except that she's not interested in seeing the world, just escaping from it, and the last people she wants to hang out with are backpackers.

Like a lot of travellers on the Lonely-Planet-led Asian Grand Tour, Tansy is intensely irritating at first. Always on the look out for the "real" Vietnam--the one in which she can walk around "like a model, fanning myself gently, strolling into ancient temples and learning about inner peace"--she is opinionated, narrow-minded and remarkably naive (for a supposed media luvvy). Once she has shrugged off her addiction to lines of coke, skinny lattes and Nicole Fahri jumpers, she becomes more appealing. So by the time she's fallen for Max, a fellow traveller, she'll have won you over and you'll be just as worried as she is about the serial killer who appears to be on her trail.

Emily Barr has written columns and travel pieces for the Observer and the Guardian for several years, and her previous novels have all been critically acclaimed. She lives in Cornwall with her husband and three children.

©2001 Emily Barr (P)2014 Audible Studios

What listeners say about Backpack

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • BC27
  • 27-09-14

LOved the Narration

Where does Backpack rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

While I was not sure in the beginning if I wanted to continue, the narration by Emmy Fenney was Brilliant!! I became totally absorbed by Tanzey and her adventure while not wholly believable it was storytelling at its best, I laughed at times and shrugged at times but what kept me going was the voice of both the author and the narrator, Loved it because of her narration, she is terrific and should narrate more books.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Backpack?

Tanzey's growing awareness of herself as an independent person, not the daughter, not the girlfriend, not the party girl but her inner self being comfortable with herself, I think there are a lot of lessons in the book for young people.

What does Emma Fenney bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Her voice is Great, I cannot believe there is not another book she has narrated, she showed range, depth, phrasing and she kept me coming back to it, Do More books!!!

6 people found this helpful

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  • judyp
  • 20-01-17

Discovered Emily Barr

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Although the narrative is a bit rapid, the storyline is amusing and entertaining.

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

This is an interesting story from a developing writer. It is one of her first books.

Have you listened to any of Emma Fenney’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

First listening to Fenney.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

An excellent travel lit. with some very personal touches and good dry humor.

Any additional comments?

So happy to have discovered Emily Barr. Her stories, especially "The Sleeper" have something for everyone. Her writing is entertaining in every way. Also, a sure listen/read for lovers of British writing and narration. "The Perfect Lie" is also wonderful travel lit. (Venice).

4 people found this helpful

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  • JEMME
  • 12-01-17

All of the action is in the last 30 minutes

I listened for HOURS at this woman's musings! FINALLY, she met up with the killer, but the confrontation was over in 2 minutes! Aargh!!

3 people found this helpful

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  • joan
  • 30-10-16

Story just ok

I'd read another book by this author and really liked it , but I felt this book was a bit lazily written. The main story is the girl traveling and changing outlook, but the sub plot was under the surface and could have been woven in so much better than it was - it was just eluded to until the end. Narrator is great.

3 people found this helpful

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  • TheAudiobookReview
  • 08-09-20

A old favourite of mine brought to life

I was reminded of Backpack by Emily Barr when I saw she had recently released a new book. I bought Backpack as a paperback many years ago now, a few years after its initial release (I’m thinking 2007?). When my Audible credit came up this month, it was time for a revisit. When I first saw this book waaaaay back when, I remember thinking it was chick-lit (yeah yeah judging books by their covers and all that), so probably not something I’d be interested in. But after I’d read the blurb and it talked of backpacking through Asia with a murderer following close behind, I took the plunge and bought the book. Once I started reading it I was so glad I did. Since then, I've read it every few years... and the Audible experience just being the most recent. While it is categorised as “Women’s Fiction”, I feel everyone can (and should!) enjoy this. Tansy, in the beginning of this novel, is a fairly unlikable person. Her mother has just died, and she’s hard drinking / hard drugging herself to forget about it. Convinced to take some time off from her life and go travelling with her boyfriend, she books a backpacking trip through Asia. Her boyfriend pulls out at the last minute and she’s forced to travel alone. She arrives with impractical clothing and despising everyone, especially the backpackers who she believes herself to be above. Of course along the way she meets many interesting people who she begins to trust and love. As the novel progresses, news of murdered backpackers that look a lot like Tansy are showing up dead, in places she has visited. Of course she becomes less of a douche along the way, and embraces the backpacking way of life. So part mystery / suspense, part self-discovery, part comedy, this novel deftly blends all three together into a thoroughly enjoyable read. The descriptions of life on the road as a backpacker and of the places and people Tansy meets along the way are immersive, obviously written by someone who has travelled the circuit. The narrator, Emma Fenney, breathes so much life into Tansy and the other characters. She has a voice that's easy to listen to while adding the needed believability that makes you think you're listening to the true story of someone narrating their way around Asia. TL;DR Versions An oldie but a goodie and glad I looked past my preconceptions based on the cover. Give this one a go for sure.

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  • kathleen
  • 06-09-17

WOW!

This book was so fun!!! I love Tansy! The performance was amazing, truly evidence of how a book is enhanced by audio. This is an amazing author. I am a fan for sure. Thirsting for more!!! Especially love this narrator. Must listen!

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  • sally
  • 13-12-16

Loved the narrator !

Where does Backpack rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

fantastic book for a " traveller" you will relate!

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

It definitely kept me listening!

Which character – as performed by Emma Fenney – was your favorite?

I loved Tansy

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

didnt want to stop listening

3 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Read and Reviewed
  • 02-12-15

A solid 4 star listen - enjoyable.

What did you like most about Backpack?

For me, it was hearing about Tansy as she travelled the world. In essence she is seeking an escape from her life in the UK and the fact that she is not the stereotypical travelling kind of person ensured this captured her cynicism perfectly! Lightly humorous and good expression in the narrators voice.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Backpack?

The backpack travels were told with subtle humour and I found the moments when Tansy encountered over travellers kept this story feeling fresh.

Which character – as performed by Emma Fenney – was your favourite?

Tansy - without a doubt. This is her story and I loved seeing how much she changed over the course of her travels.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No probably not. I listened to this over several days and it was great to get little chunks of the backpack experience.

Any additional comments?

A solid narration of a very good book. A solid 4 star - perhaps not setting the world alight but a really great story to get into and some nice moments of humour.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Stepping On
  • 20-01-17

fantastic visuals and a good plot

really excellent in terms of conjuring up images of all the amazing places Tansy visits. she is such an unlikeable character in the beginning but the author and narrator are very successful in making you want to stick with her. The serial killer storyline almost feels irrelevant as Tansy's personal journey is more than interesting enough but it is well executed regardless. Only wish the ending was a little less abrupt!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jeeds
  • 04-12-14

Great Story, Great Narration!

Having read/listened to other books by Emily Barr, I had no qualms in using my monthly credit to download 'Backpack'. I found out that 'Backpack' is one of Emily Barr's early books; in fact I believe it is her first, and as I am familiar with her style and plot choices in later books, I did see the main reveal at the end of the book coming. However, it is still a great story and there were other smaller surprises along the way.
The author creates an honest and tangible description of Asia and the main character, Tansy, starts off quite hateful (yet some of her comments are laugh out loud funny) but she really goes on a "journey" ending the story as a much more enlightened and balanced young woman. I loved the narration and thought that Emma Fenney was fantastic at conveying pace and emotion and her accents for different characters were pretty darn good too! All around an excellent listen!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Murder Mystery Thriller Fan
  • 09-09-18

BRIDGET JONES' BAD BIG SISTER BACKPACKING MURDER!

If you love Bridget Jones, fabulous travelogs and murder mysteries - then this is the one for you! Terrible tearaway Tansy, journalist and party girl is like Bridget Jones on crack, though coke is her preferred drug of choice along with copious amounts of drink. This goodtime girl is so very well read by narrator Emma Fenney, that it had me in fits of laughter, while the wonderfully evocative descriptions of a trek through Vientnam, Laos, Thailand, China and Tibet really made me feel like I was there. The murder mystery which runs in tandem with the travels added drama and menace to the fun proceedings and the journey of course is as much about the character as the route as she faces her demons while never losing her sense of humour. I did guess the murderer before the reveal, but really the book was far more than a whodunnit, hilarious though the subject matter was gritty and so very different from this author's other excellent thrillers like Sleeper and Stranded which I adored also. This is a unique book and I loved every minute. I have never had any great wish to visit Asia and definitely not to backpack anywhere but now thanks to this book I feel I actually have done both in really hilarious company. So well written and a real breath of fresh air. I do so hope Audible will offer more of Emily Barr's books to us in the future like "Cuban Heels" and the sequel to this book "The Life You Want" as well as "The Sisterhood", "Out of My Depth" and "First Wife" ...... as they all look excellent but now am so hooked on audio books I would prefer them to be read to me!!!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mr Chops
  • 12-11-14

Escape

I read this on my first round the world trip so it has special memories for me. I enjoyed the audible version, it also transported me away from grey oppresive London to the energy and life of a holiday in Asia.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Annie112358
  • 24-10-20

Brilliant

I absolutely loved this book, a compulsive read with humour, drama and mystery. It was well written and well performed.

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  • Nicks
  • 14-04-19

Very engaging!

I really like this author as you cant predict her plots or endings (different to the usual thrillers). As the characters travel around various countries, some interesting information is presented without it being too 'heavy'. Definitely a recommended book and the narration was brilliant!

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  • Millie
  • 02-05-15

Guessing till the End

I didn't even even guess that it was him. Great writing once again by this brilliant author. Will read more.

2 people found this helpful

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  • JaDe
  • 08-07-15

What is the genre?

I enjoyed Backpack. It is a bit confused though. Is it a voyage of self-discovery? A romance? A crime novel? Initially the main character came across as shallow and self-centred to the extent that I wondered why anyone liked her. However she improved on deeper acquaintance and was clearly trying to come to terms with her past difficulties. These difficulties were extreme and once this became clear it seemed a miracle that she was as grounded as she was. Also, given the traumatic nature of her past, her character could have been explored more thoroughly.

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  • Starling
  • 23-06-15

Not extremely impressed

Not extremely impressed :/ slightly disappointed about the story line.
Did not particularly enjoy it I have to say.