Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven

  • by Susan Jane Gilman
  • Narrated by Susan Jane Gilman
  • 7 hrs and 32 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

They were young, brilliant, and bold. They set out to conquer the world. But the world had other plans for them.Best-selling author Susan Jane Gilman's new memoir is a hilarious and harrowing journey, a modern heart of darkness filled with Communist operatives, backpackers, and pancakes. In 1986, fresh out of college, Gilman and her friend Claire yearned to do something daring and original that did not involve getting a job. Inspired by a place mat at the International House of Pancakes, they decided to embark on an ambitious trip around the globe, starting in the People's Republic of China. At that point, China had been open to independent travelers for roughly ten minutes.Armed only with the collected works of Nietzsche, an astrological love guide, and an arsenal of bravado, the two friends plunged into the dusty streets of Shanghai. Unsurprisingly, they quickly found themselves in over their heads. As they ventured off the map deep into Chinese territory, they were stripped of everything familiar and forced to confront their limitations amid culture shock and government surveillance. What began as a journey full of humor, eroticism, and enlightenment grew increasingly sinister-becoming a real-life international thriller that transformed them forever.Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven is a flat-out page-turner, an astonishing true story of hubris and redemption told with Gilman's trademark compassion, lyricism, and wit.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

More like hysteria in china

I feel like this book started in the wrong place. This book is about two Ivy League women who set out for a 10 month world tour starting in china, the authors best friend losing it after 7 weeks in china and how she takes her friend home never too see her again. Half way through I found myself begging the author to send her friend back home only to find out the whole book is about her friend's insane breakdown overseas. The book then ends with the author going back to china alone and sums up the next twenty years in her final chapter. The author could easily write a more successful, interesting, book about her 10 months of travel and maybe spend three good chapters in the beginning to explain how her adventure had a rocky start with a hysterical friend who almost ruined it all for her.

I did listen to the end of the book with the authors interview and she states that she wanted to write a travel book that was more sad and did not end with the usual happy self-revelation. That was done successfully. I read this whole books waiting for her to have a real adventure that didn't last more than 3 pages at a time. This book is inthralled in the crazy drama that was brought on by her friend and easily overshadowing any positive encounters the author had while in china. The title of this book is very misleading and sadly, I would not recommend it.

On one positive note I would like to say kudos to the author for going back out there and turning her life into an adventure. She has done what most people could only dream of.
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- Alexis

If only this book had NOT been abridged!

What made the experience of listening to Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven the most enjoyable?

The conciseness, prose and reality. The social commentary and intense descriptive prose of some very real, but difference, characters.


What was one of the most memorable moments of Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven?

I cannot narrow it down to one single moment. There were many.


What about Susan Jane Gilman’s performance did you like?

The easy tone and NOT over-emotionalism which is often the case with americans who read their own works.


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Several, but I can say the most moving was when she went BACK on her travels to learn and explore more. Not staying insular in the USA.


Any additional comments?

I read this book by accident as I normally NEVER read any book that has been abridged. I am only sadder now that it was abridged. How much more enjoyable and pleasing the read would have been if it was read in its entirety.
Abridged books should be banned. My opinion, of course, but I want to read all that the author says and not have some other entity decide what to cut. Bad.

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- Toby "Anglophile. Prefer only British fiction and mysteries. Good translations of Italian, too."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-24-2009
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio