A new book by Tineke Van der Eecken, Traverse is a moving travel memoir that charts the unfolding disintegration of a marriage and a woman’s last-ditch attempt to rescue it by taking a difficult and dangerous trek with her husband.
The landscape of Madagascar proves as rocky as her relationship, and the path forward must be hacked through harsh, uncharted jungle. The terrain, in particular the powerful Bemarivo River, brings her face-to-face with her own limitations and demons from her past.
By pushing through a physical feat of endurance and closely examining the emotional truth of her situation in a challenging test of resilience, she must finally resolve her own and her husband’s future, for herself and for her family.
Tineke, her husband Dirk and their two children have moved many times to support Dirk’s career as a geologist. As the family struggle to fit in to their new home in England, Dirk is away for months conducting surveys in Madagascar. When he’s home he is mentally absent, still in Madagascar it seems. When Tineke discovers the reason why her life can never be the same.
Determined to save her twelve-year marriage Tineke decides to accompany Dirk on his next geological expedition: a 350-kilometre trek through the unrelenting terrain of Madagascar. The physical landscape and emotional journey are inextricably intertwined, told in Tineke’s detailed descriptions of the unfolding situation, the sights, scents and sentiments.
Through the challenges she relies on her own resilience as she carves a path for herself and her family, towards a new beginning in Australia, where she finds peace and to Gidgegannup where she writes her story.
“This is a sensitively balanced piece of travel writing and personal memoir, evocative in terms of the place it depicts and the emotional tension between various characters.” – 2016 City of Fremantle T.A.G Hungerford Awards.
Tineke Van der Eecken is a Belgian-born Australian writer with a background in social sciences and a strong interest in art and culture. She is the author of Traverse, a travel memoir that navigates the reader through the landscape of Madagascar on the one side and her marriage on the other. Apart from Traverse, she also published Café d’Afrique in 2012 – a memoir about her cultural restaurant in Zambia. Her poetry and non-fiction are published in Australia, Europe and in the UK. Tineke lives in Perth.
Image: Traverse by Tineke Van der Eecken