Books

Frigid Women by Sue and Victoria Riches (Travellerseye, pounds 7.99, published 2 October)

With its provocative title and foreword by Dawn French, one wonders if there is substance beyond this book's packaging. The answer is undoubtedly yes.The subject matter - the first all-female expedition to the North Pole - is compelling. In addition, the intimate style of this account by the mother-and-daughter members of the expedition certainly adds another dimension to the "I may be some time..." stiff-upper-lip school of polar adventure writing that has long been a male preserve. The authors render their often life-threatening experiences with humility, honesty and a vital sense of humour. Simply, the narrative is unique and gratifying in that it reveals the human side of an inhuman challenge. Nearing the end of the expedition, Victoria writes "Mum had a major wobbly when I led two pulkas over a crack and they fell `in the water you stupid child!'... I think Mum was having a very bad day". Perhaps an equally impressive feat is that a mother and grown-up daughter could spend weeks in an icy wilderness and remain friends.

Rating 7/10

The Good Skiing and Snowboarding Guide 1999, edited by Peter Hardy and Felice Eyston (Which? Books, pounds 15.99)

Compiled in association with the Ski Club of Great Britain, this ambitious book provides, in somewhat eye-boggling detail, the 500 best ski and snowboard resorts around the world. There is a wealth of ski info, from equipment rental to lists of specialist tour operators. The introductory pages deal with topical issues: snow blades (mini skis, no poles) are the latest fad; and the North American ski resorts beat their European cousins hands down when it comes to both value for money and conditions.

There is endless, well-researched practical information for all standards of skier; resort guides, snowboarding family holidays, piste safety and lists of tour operators. Untainted by commercialism, this book offers the sort of candid advice that does not appear in travel brochures. As a general reference book, it is impressive, but with such a wide range of information (which is subject to change) and its pounds 15.99 price tag, it is perhaps intended for serious (obsessed?) skiers only.

Rating 6/10

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