Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven Review

TITLE: Undress Me In the Temple of Heaven
AUTHOR: Susan Jane Gilman
PUB DATE: March 2009 (Hardcover)
PUB DATE: February 2010 (Trade Paperback)
PAGES: 320

In 1986, Susan Jane Gilman and a classmate embarked on a bold trek around the globe starting in the People’s Republic of China. At that point, China had been open to independent backpackers for roughly ten minutes. Armed only with the collected works of Nietzsche and Linda Goodman’s Love Signs, the two friends plunged into the dusty streets of Shanghai. Unsurprisingly, they quickly found themselves in over their heads–hungry, disoriented, stripped of everything familiar, and under constant government surveillance. Soon, they began to unravel–one physically, the other psychologically.

As their journey became increasingly harrowing, they found themselves facing crises that Susan didn’t think they’d survive. But by summoning strengths she never knew she had–and with help from unexpected friends–the two travelers found their way out of a Chinese heart of darkness.

UNDRESS ME IN THE TEMPLE OF HEAVEN is a flat-out page-turner, an astonishing true story of naïveté, friendship, and redemption told with Susan’s trademark compassion and humor.


Susan Jane Gilman is a new to me author who I heard about last year but never had the chance to read. She is the author of two other non fiction books called Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, and Kiss My Tiara. I have read Kiss My Tiara and my review will be posted soon. I still have to read Pouffy White Dress.

I am not a huge fan of non-fiction/memoirs but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised when I was reading this. I have never gone on any road trips with girlfriends in my entire life but that is going to change in May when I head to NYC with my fellow friends. After reading Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven I know our road trip will be nothing like Susan’s.

Susan has just graduated from Brown with her friend Claire (Van Houten). On a whim the girls have decided that they will backpack around the world for a year and return when their student loan payments start.

Susie and Claire both admit that neither one of them had really traveled much. With only the Lonely Planet in hand they decide where they want to go. They decide to begin their journey in China.

China in 1986 was just beginning to allow tourists in but you had to go through Hong Kong in order to get into China. Things are good until they land when realization hits Susan. They have decided that they were basically going to rough it no fancy hotels and do what the locals do. They have no reservations anywhere and are basically using the Lonely Planet book. I cringed reading the description of the room in Hong Kong.

Along their travels they meet alot of interesting characters. Such as an American woman travelling with two kids and you wonder why they are travelling in the fall instead of being in school and a few others that make you raise an eyebrow at and go hmm wonder what the story is up with that?

Both girls go through alot, discover alot and they struggle but in the end they tough it out and make the best of their trip and root for each other. Just what friends should do.

I want to thank Miriam from Hachette for sending me this book and for allowing me to be a part of the February Blog Tour for the book. Thank You Miriam.

Here are some bloggers who are also reviewing this book today:

copyright 2010, Cindy (Cindy’s Love Of Books)
If you are reading this on a blog or website other than Cindy’s Love Of Books or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

6 thoughts on “Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven Review

  1. Susan Jane Gilman says:

    Dear Cindy,

    I am so pleased that you liked “Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven,” especially since memoirs are usually not you preference. New York City is my hometown, and though I now live in Europe, I hope that when you roadtrip to Manhattan you have an easier time of it than I did in China!

    I write a humorous blog about my continuing travels, adventures, and cultural insights. “A View from A Broad” can be read at http://www.susanjanegilman.blogspot.com for readers who are interested.

    Thank you again for taking the time to read my book — and enjoy the journey.

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