Donna Mulvenna had everything she wanted in her modern Australian life: a rewarding career, a spacious home, and an around-the-clock connection to mobile technology. But for all these comforts, she couldn’t shake the feeling something was missing.
So when a Frenchman entered her life and invited her to move to France, she instantly daydreamed of strolling through lavender fields and sipping espresso in Paris. How could she have known he had two tickets to an obscure, mosquito-infested French territory in South America: French Guiana?
After that life got a little crazy. Donna found herself hacking through a perilous jungle, canoeing along anaconda-infested rivers, and overcoming a tropical disease: in a place that became more hostile by the minute. Harrowing ordeals became just another pothole in the road as she battled with bureaucratic nightmares, befriended a bizarre assortment of lively characters, and encountered oddball creatures in a chocolate-colored sea.
Then it happened. Forced out of her comfort zone and cleansed of the beliefs that had sustained her in a materialistic world, Donna dug deep within herself to unearth a long-lost hidden spirit. At that moment, she came alive in the Amazon rainforest.
Written with humor, a respect for nature, and an awareness that we must somehow rebuild our relationship with it, this fascinating and uplifting memoir will make you want to reclaim your life and live out your wildest dreams.
A little about Donna first:
Donna is a horticulturist and writer who lives on the fringe of the Amazon forest in French Guiana.
She left behind decades of corporate writing to write about nature, health, passion, love, and living simply and sustainably — in essence, her code for living a good life. In her ramblings she hopes to offer a glimpse of the true wonder of the Amazon, reveal its profound effect on each of us and inspire readers to build a connection with the natural world.
It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to people who are not her kind of wild, but Donna refuses to own a mobile phone, rarely wears shoes, and is passionate about living on a whole food, plant-based diet. If she can’t be found swinging in a hammock with a laptop in hand or somewhere off the coast reading from her sea kayak, you will find her hurtling along the great Amazonian rivers in a sprint canoe.
To learn more about Donna and the French Amazon visit her website at donnamulvenna.com
Guest Reviewer – Heather Hayden
This is a very enjoyable memoir about finding one’s place in the world. For Donna, that was the French Amazon, a beautiful (and dangerous) place where she could truly become alive.
I loved the descriptions of the flora and fauna, as well as reading about her adventures in the rainforest. My favorite part was the bird-watching–I adored her descriptions of the harpy eagle and all of the other birds she encountered. The black caiman was cool, too.
Although my adventurous spirit prefers oceanside environments, her descriptions of the rainforest make me want to visit it someday.
Sherry Terry’s Review
Very entertaining! If you want to take a trip to the rainforest without leaving your couch, this is a great read. Donna really brings out the feel, sounds, smells, and sights of French Guiana.
Donna does a fantastic job if describing the environment with a sense of humor. From the insects to the birds, she puts you there. Tons of great description and angst. The little tale she tells about the sloths was so sad, and the frogs jumping on her in the shower brought laughter.
I admire Donna for taking the leap to follow the man she loved to a place she had never heard of. And she has told her story extremely well.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves to travel and read memoirs.
RA Winter’s Review
WILD ROOTS: Coming Alive in the French Amazon by Donna Mulvenna is a really neat tale of going somewhere ‘else’. I found it very interesting to see someone else’s perspective on living ‘out of their comfort zone.
I’ve lived all over the world. In places where electricity wasn’t the norm. Nor was running water inside the house. Each person deals with the ‘problems’ in a different way.
French Guiana is heartwarming and fun. If you are a nature lover, you will enjoy the descriptions of birds and animals that she encountered while living ‘without’.
I at least had an indoor bathroom everywhere I lived. Donna didn’t and her tale of horror at the geckos attacking her in the outhouse shower are hilarious.
There’s the trek down the river, through the monkey and snake-infested jungle. Oh, and don’t forget the always present ants. Like, everywhere.
And I could go on about the bureaucrats. That long lost desire to have things done doesn’t work the same way in other countries.
The writing is light and very engaging. Donna brings us in and wraps us in her world.
Very enjoyable. A memoir worth reading.
Please feel free to leave your review in the comments.