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Pub Date Jul 04 2024 | Archive Date Jul 04 2024

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It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime: the open road, London to Kathmandu, just three young people looking for adventure. No one could have predicted the way it ended, and for fifty years the truth has been buried. But now, Joyce is ready to tell her story.

London, 1970. Fresh out of a dead-end job, Joyce answers an ad in the local paper: Kathmandu by van, leave August. Share petrol and costs. Joyce is desperate to escape life in suburbia, and aristocrat Freddie looks like he can show her a wild time.

Together with Anton, Freddie’s best friend from boarding school, they embark on the overland trail from London to Kathmandu in a beaten-up old Land Rover. But as they cross the borders into Asia, Freddie can’t outrun his family’s history, leading to devastating consequences for everyone.

Overland is a novel about youth, privilege, class and the sharp echoes of British imperialism from one of the most exciting new voices in literary fiction.

It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime: the open road, London to Kathmandu, just three young people looking for adventure. No one could have predicted the way it ended, and for fifty years the...

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Average rating from 38 members

Featured Reviews

What a rich and beautiful book. While the writing style took a little to get used to, the gorgeous narration was an instant hit for me. The way Khan described the different countries, people, and places was simply divine. There was a real sense of immersion coming off the page, it was easy to picture the dust and sand of the deserts and the atmosphere of the small towns and cities. The characters were also incredibly complex, in particular I loved Joyce. Although she tends to erase herself a little from the narrative, her quiet demeanour and motherlike way of looking after her boys was heartwarming. She was also infuriating at points, allowing her privilege and naivety to get in the way and distort her view.

The ending had me in tears, and I so desperately wanted to crawl into this book and seek out answers for myself. The commentary on racism, class and Imperialism was weaved so finely throughout, adding to the story and reminding the reader of the importance of these conversations. A masterpiece of a book that transports the reader to a different world altogether.

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Overland is a novel about three young people in 1970 who go on a road trip to India, and it doesn't go as expected. Joyce sees an ad in the paper in London for going to Kathmandu by van and before she knows it, she's off with aristocratic Freddie and academic Anton, best friends from boarding school, leaving her suburban life behind. As they travel, Joyce gets closer to the boys, but Freddie is trying to escape his family by any means necessary and he and Anton have very different ideas about their trip, as well as the secrets hiding in Freddie's father's past.

Told by Joyce looking back decades later, the narrative unfolds with an unreliable edge, with Joyce positioning herself—and even Freddie and Anton—as very different to the hippies, the "freaks", also making the overland journey. This idea of seeing yourself as different, as privileged, runs throughout the book, with class and wealth differences vital between the three main characters, but also in their interactions with everyone else. This provides a commentary on the very journey, and the idea of who is able to drop everything in their life to suddenly travel so far. The story itself meanders like their journey, with a lot of hints early on of things going wrong, and then a faster paced ending, though still quite clouded through Joyce's determination to minimise her part in anything. A lot of the hints towards the later narrative don't quite go anywhere, but with an unreliable narrator it can be hard to tell how intentional this is.

Joyce's position as narrator and character is fascinating: a narrator who wants to paint her companions as extraordinary, whilst lessening her impact on the narrative (which you later discover is very much intentional). Her narration is clouded by her own judgements, and she is purposefully a figure of conformity despite having gone on such a hippy trip, believing in imperialist narratives and not wanting to question how narratives of history have been told even as she tells her own. There's a lot of reading between the lines to do—I imagine some readers will either like Joyce or be frustrated by her opinions, rather than see the point of her character traits as something to read into—and generally the book feels less about what happens, than ideas of travel, escape, privilege, and the harsh realities of combining crossing borders with a lot of drugs.

A book that is often just as much about what the narrator isn't saying than what she is, Overland is an interesting look at a specific phenomenon that plays with perspective and storytelling.

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Join Joyce, Freddie, and Anton on their wild ride from London to Kathmandu in a vintage Land Rover. Khan paints a vivid picture of the 1970s, blending adventure with intrigue as secrets unravel and destinies collide. With each mile, the tension mounts until the shocking truth is finally unearthed. Full of nostalgia and suspense, "Overland" is a gripping tale of friendship, betrayal, and the power of redemption. Buckle up for an unforgettable journey that will keep you guessing until the very end.

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A beautifully weaved story of three friends making the journey from England to India in the 1970s. The author writes setting and place so brilliantly, and I thought the story was expertly crafted. Issues such as class and British imperialism are handled incredibly well, and the dynamic between the three characters was fantastic. Definitely one I'll be recommending to friends!

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"Overland" follows three young people in 1970 who embark on a road trip to India, only to encounter unexpected challenges along the way. Joyce, enticed by an ad in a London newspaper, joins aristocratic Freddie and academic Anton, leaving her suburban life behind. As they journey, tensions arise among the trio, exacerbated by Freddie's desire to escape his family and the secrets lurking in his father's past. Narrated by Joyce reflecting back on the experience years later, the story unfolds with an unreliable edge, highlighting the characters' sense of privilege and their interactions with others. Class and wealth differences play a vital role, offering commentary on who can afford such spontaneous travel. The narrative meanders like their journey, with hints of trouble ahead and a faster-paced ending. Joyce's position as both narrator and character adds complexity, as she grapples with conformity and her own biases. The book delves into themes of travel, escape, privilege, and the harsh realities of drug use while crossing borders. It's a thought-provoking exploration of perspective and storytelling, often revealing more through what is left unsaid than what is expressed outright.

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This book really delves into the good, the bad and the ugly of the trip so many people took in the 1970s, as told by Joyce decades later looking back on the life defining trip. There’s a sense of foreboding all the way through, as we are told things didn’t go according to plan, and we’re left on the edge of our seats waiting for it all to go wrong.

Joyce is an interesting narrator that really forces the reader to read between the lines and think about what she says vs. what she means. She’s frustrating and even unlikeable at times, but her perspective added a lot of complexity to the story that I really enjoyed.

This is a unique story with fascinating takes on class, friendship, travel and privilege. Once I got a feel for the writing style, Overland was so hard to put down. The last half of this book in particular had me so hooked! The way Khan writes place is so descriptive and beautiful, it was one of my favourite things about the book.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It beautifully weaves together the story of three young people in a poetic manner and the author does a great job of describing the beautiful settings within this novel.

I would recommend to all

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Its the 1970s and Joyce, a young, slightly plain working class woman answers an advert in the newspaper to travel from London to Kathmandu.

Her  unlikely travel companions turn out to be two privileged lads from private school backgrounds. Laid back Freddie is a talented musician and gorgeous, he is also the son of  an earl and  set to inherit a vast estate. His school friend Anton is more studious, destined to be a top unibersity scholar with his love of Asian languages.

However, despite promising futures the characters are each using the adventure as an excuse to escape individual demons.

We follow the trio as they travel overland in a  dilapidated landrover. This is a fascinating insight to the culmination of the 1970s bohemian youth  hippie movement, with a fair sprinkling of sex and drugs!

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Overland by Yasmin Cordery Khan - review


First of all thank you so much to Netgalley and Head of Zeus for giving me the opportunity to read Overland in return for a honest review 🥰.

Well I kind of had to squeeze this read in, since it was due in a couple of days and I kind of forgot that it was still on my netgalley shelve 😅.
And now having read it I regret not reading it sooner.
This was an amazing read and soo well written. If you are a fan of literary fiction than I would definitely recommend this one 🤩.

Overland is a story about the Overland, which should have been the trip of a lifetime from London to Kathmandu. Just three people looking for adventure. No one could have predicted how this adventure ended, but now 50 years later Joyce is ready to tell her side of the story.

The story is set in the 1970s, the time of hippies and free spirits. Joyce answers an ad from a newspaper, of some guys looking for a travel mate to go to Kathmandu in August. Joyce is desperate to escape life and responds. Freddie, one of the guys, an aristocrate is very happy to show her the wild life. Together with Anton, Freddie’s best friend from boarding school, they leave in a Land Rover called Vera to embark on the Overland trail from London to Kathmandu. But are they able to escape their past, or ends it up catching up on them?

Wow just wow… this was such an emotional but also beautiful read. All the topics hit soo hard. The privilege, being young, differences in class, finding yourself and coming to terms with who you are, but also in the background echoes of British imperialism… This is just such a well written novel.

I loved seeing these youngsters explore and learn more about themselves. But also grow together, and grow apart.
This is such a beautiful journey that you are taken on and so hard to explain. But the relationships are written just amazingly. How they develop and the point of view of Joyce.

The novel is written from first person point of view, which I really enjoyed. It has been some time since I read first person point of view, but I really enjoyed it, and definitely would love reading it more often. It just helps you emerge yourself into the thoughts and lives of the main character, in this case Joyce. I just loved to learn new things with her and getting to know herself better.

This is the perfect read for summer if you love a good literary fiction written from first person perspective, in which you are emerged into a story of self discovery, travel, friendships but also a background echo of British imperialism and privilege.

Overland will be released the 4th of July.

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Having undertaken an overland trip to Kathmandu myself in 1975, I was particularly to read of other traveller’s experiences.

The book certainly brought back memories from 50 years ago. Many of the places resonated, though our mode of transport and overnight accommodations differed. To have experienced this unforgettable trip when the international borders were open and relatively hassle free is history in the making. At that time it was nicknamed ‘The Hashish Trail’, typically undertaken by people who wanted to escape the stress of the West and lead a calmer life. Although a work of fiction, Joyce’s constant companions, school friends Fred and Anton, survived the best part of the trip as a unit, despite their very different personalities, until tragedy struck on the Agra Road and continued to a heartbreaking conclusion.

This is an unforgettable read, told with skill and knowledge by the author of days gone by.

My thanks to NetGalley and the publishers Head of Zeus for this ARC in return for my review.

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Overland is a captivating story set in the 1970s. It follows three people on a road trip from London to Kathmandu. Joyce, a 24-year-old divorcee, eager to escape her suburban life, joins “her boys”Freddie and Anton. Traveling in a dilapidated Land Rover, their adventure unfolds against the backdrop of the hippie movement, exploring themes of privilege, class differences, and self-discovery.
This one is perfect for those who love literary fiction and stories about adventure and self-discovery. It's a great summer read.

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I really enjoyed this tail of excess and adventure! I felt as if I knew there was going to be a clash of characters at some point, but the excellent writing kept me guessing as to when it would happen.

It gave me a thirst to travel and a weariness of public school boys...

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A great summer read.

Overland tells the story of three individuals on a road trip from London to Kathmandu in the 1970s. Responding to an advertisement in the local paper, Joyce, a 24-year-old divorcee who is also our narrator, embarks on a wild journey of self-discovery as she sets off with Freddie and Anton, two close friends from privileged backgrounds. Their journey is more than physical, though, as with this pilgrimage, all of the characters undergo their own unique spiritual and personal journeys.

This is a novel about friendship, adventure, finding oneself, and the haunting effects of the past. For such a small book, it does a great job at acknowledging a hinterland of themes, including mental health, domestic violence, drug use, class, race, and imperialism. But perhaps my favourite thing about this novel was the atmosphere, which felt nostalgic and for lack of a better word, hazy. Reading this book felt like watching a montage of 70s Super 8 film. The author, Yasmin Cordery Khan, does a fantastic job of creating a real sense of time and place that has a dreamlike quality, as if being actually recalled through memory.

The only two things that stop me rating this more highly is firstly, the omission of quotation marks. It serves the stream of consciousness narration well, but at times I found it a little difficult to tell who was speaking and when, which then impacted the flow. Secondly, I failed to connect more deeply to any of the three central characters. Had I been more emotionally invested in them, I imagine I would have been more deeply affected by the outcome of the novel and rated the overall reading experience more highly.

Still, this was a very enjoyable read and one I’d recommend to those who enjoy narratives about friendships, travel adventures, and finding oneself.

Thank you kindly to @netgalley and @headofzeus for allowing me to read this advanced copy in exchange for my honest thoughts!

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A song of the seventies when the overland route to India was doable and lots of people did. Disillusioned by their circumstances this is the story of three of them.

Joyce is running from a bad marriage and her life set out in Suburbia; Fred wants to get away from family obligations to take over the family pile, get married and have babies and labradors; and Anton is after adventure before university. The Overland is a well worn route - hippies, adventurers, the curious and the escapees are all on the trip of a lifetime in a hodge podge of transport. Fred, Anton and Joyce have Vera, an ancient Land Rover, not much money and a loose bond that could spin apart at any time.

The characters vie with the journey in this novel that feels almost like a travelogue at times. It certainly has a ring of authenticity to it which is hardly surprising given the nature of the author and her sources. There are also some surprises along the way as the three travel through countries that no longer have such lax entry requirements. This is the era of free love, endless drugs and a horror of war.

I really enjoyed the whole journey and highly recommend it.

Thankyou to Netgalley and Head of Zeus for the advance review copy.

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Overland is a story about the Overland, which should have been the trip of a lifetime from London to Kathmandu in the 1970s, the time of hippies and free spirits. Joyce recounts the trip from her perspective, from when she answered an ad in the newspaper to become the travel mate to two boarding school guys eager for an adventure.

This is a story about three young people from different backgrounds who set off to explore the world and lend up learning so much more about themselves. They grow together, and they grow apart until a terrible twist of fate happens.

The writing took some getting used to, because of the lack of quotes. But this ends up being one of the winning factors for this book: Each of the characters has such a specific and unique voice that it is easily distinguishable.

Joyce, as our narrator, might be the most interesting character of all. She does not come from privilege, yet she carries the most prejudices. She believes herself to be unlike the hippies, or the freaks, despite the fact she is traveling the hippie trail with the hippies & freaks. Her growing obsession with ‘her boys’, the privileged life she so clearly envies, the need to make herself 'indispensable' to them and her closed mind made this such an interesting read.

This is the perfect literary fiction read for summer: a story of adventure, self discovery, travel, friendships and obsessions with background echo of British imperialism and privilege.

Thank you so much to Apollo and NetGallery for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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An absolute page turner following a naive young trio of Londoners who embark on an overland adventure to Kathmandu in a battered old Land Rover. Joyce, recently divorced, answers a classified ad on a whim, and recounts her version of the story 50 years later, when she meets Anton, the extremely bright, historian and linguistic student and his carefree, charismatic friend from boarding school, Freddie, the heir to an Earldom. Although their vastly differing social and class backgrounds are immediately apparent, all three are eager to more forward for their own reasons. As the journey unfolds, their motivations for escaping the past are revealed and Joyce finds purpose in looking after her “boys” though she wishfully overestimates her influence and place in the life of Freddie. A vivid account of the sometimes perilous road trip along the hippie trail, encounters with the “freaks” and the despairing descent of Freddie into a drug culture which increasingly divides him from Anton and Joyce. With time for reflection, Joyce wonders if there could have been more done to help Freddie and regrets the way Anton left. The light and breezy writing reflects the joy and wonderment for a time in the lives of each traveller's journey of discovery, yet there is the realistic portrayal into the depth of the dark and uglier side of places, events and personality traits. A brilliant holiday read!

Thank you NetGalley and Head of Zeus for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Reflection on what could Ave been done
Perhaps hoping for more of a relationship future

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A beautiful coming of age story set in the 1970s.

The story of 3 friends who are traveling to India via the overland route. It was a very character driven story which I loved and got good insight into all 3 characters.

A perfect summer read and I love books set in the 70s! Really well written and researched.

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Captivating. A brilliantly written book about three travellers going overland from London to Kathmandu in a dilapidated Land Rover in 1970. In addition to bringing the sights sounds and smells of the journey it captures the differences in the attitudes of the time. The class system, the racism, the homophobia, women's place in society, upper class entitlement and the juxtaposition of the ‘freedom’ felt on the journey. Told in narration from Joyce’s point of view you feel you are a part of the journey, a fourth, if silent, member of the team.
I read this in one sitting and was engrossed from the start.
A definite contender for the ‘if you read just one book this year’ title.

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A roadtrip in a book.

A great novel about the story of India and society told through the eyes of a woman and two public school boys. Such an interesting way of writing this story and what a treat it was.

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By Yasmin Cordery Khan

I am just old enough to remember the tail end of the Hippie trail and have always been intrigued by the possibility of rambling through Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan en route to India. As a young one, it shimmered with freedom and adventure, so I was eagerly anticipating getting lost in this story of three young brits forging forth in their old but trusty landrover.

Although the novel is divided by country, it is less of a travelogue, focusing more on the relationship and dynamics between the three central characters, Joyce, Anton and Freddie, exploring the differences in their experiences through the lenses of wealth, privilege, gender and sexuality.

Told from Joyce's perspective, the narrative is imbued with nostalgia and hindsight, and it becomes clear that something awful happens.

This is such an easy book to fall into. The writing is clear and the impending sense of doom makes it compelling. It lacks the rich descriptions of the foreign and the exotic that I expected, but I put that down to Joyce's circumspect attitude to Freddie's flaithulach headfirst dive into the hippie scene and the arrogant and irresponsible exploitation of poorer economies by wealthier ones.

Even though this turned out to be a different story than I thought, I still loved it. I found myself humming "Down Under" by Men at Work, throughout, and 40 years later, the lyrics are more profound than ever for me. This would make a really interesting summer holiday read if you like your armchair travel with a bit more meat on the bone.

Publication date: 4th July 2024
Thanks to #NetGalley and #HeadofZeus for the eGalley

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This started off as a really good book, especially around the class & privilege debate/discussion but the plot kind of fell apart for me as the story progressed. Solid but not great.

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I enjoyed this. It was interesting to see these characters at each other’s throats but never really being sure when it was going to happen. Lots of excess and adventure that also kept things fresh.

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It is 1970 and Joyce wants an escape from the life that is mapped out for her, she also wants to leave a traumatic experience behind. She spots a succinct advert asking for someone to share costs and petrol on a trip to Kathmandu and this seems to be the solution, a way to break out.

Fred and Anton who are childhood friends are Joyce’s travelling companions. During the long overland journey to India the trio gradually become friends and confidants; secrets are shared and plans are made. Meanwhile Fred begins to experiment with the prevailing lifestyle too much and unravels. His actions provoke Anton into challenging Fred about the past actions of his family and privileged view of the world. Joyce is caught between affection for both, while always firmly concerned with safeguarding her own destiny. Matters come to a devastating conclusion.

A gripping read with well-rounded characters and a fascinating road trip. I was absolutely immersed in the story, always drawn to tales of the Hippy Trail I was not disappointed.

The author has included an interesting range of reading in a bibliography which I shall explore with pleasure.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read an advance copy.

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Adventure, discovery, and excess in a decade of great social change and before it was possible to access the internet for directions or post your travel content online. We follow three individuals as they travel overland in an old Land Rover to Kathmandu. Their relationships fractures as the journey they take unveils darkness, with addiction, privilege, and desire for freedom from the constraints of expectation, running through the plot. Joyce, our narrator, describes with vibrancy and fluency her travelling companions as well as providing a vivid chronicle of their journey. There was something nostalgic and thrilling about this story, a compelling addition the ‘road trip’ genre.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

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Historian and novelist Yasmin Cordery Khan’s vivid recreation of the 1970s “Hippy Trail” the overland route to India followed by close to a million young people in the late 60s and early 70s. The story’s narrated by Joyce, a no-nonsense working-class woman looking back from a distance of nearly fifty years. In her early twenties Joyce was living in English suburbia, desperate to find a way out of her mundane existence. An advert leads her to Anton and Fred. Anton, mixed-race, queer, is sombre and reserved, fascinated by history and languages; his close friend Fred wants to flee his destiny as a child of the English upper-classes, an ethereal, hedonistic musician he’s ready to fully embrace everything the counterculture has to offer.

Crammed inside a dilapidated land rover, the unlikely trio travel across Europe, through Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan and onwards to India. Although they count themselves not as hippies but overlanders. But their journey won’t lead them to knowledge or to other forms of enlightenment but instead embroil them all in unanticipated tragedy.

Khan’s novel’s convincing, beautifully-observed and meticulously researched, making it hard sometimes to remember Joyce is a purely fictional creation. This isn’t a nostalgic glimpse at a lost world, instead Khan’s narrative gradually constructs a damming portrait of a newly post-colonial world, casually racist, steeped in orientalist attitudes. A place where, for people like Joyce and Fred, nation, the myth of empire, class and identity are still tightly intertwined. Khan’s exploration of these connects to an oblique, underlying series of reflections on history, memory and the legacy of imperialist atrocities – and above all the failure to take responsibility or atone for the evils of the past. But despite the complexity of Khan’s themes, it’s highly readable. An absorbing, fluid piece.

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