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Courageous woman celebrated in new book

By Contributor
September 29th, 2017

By the time she celebrated her hundredth birthday, Alexandra David-Neel — spiritual seeker, opera singer, feminist journalist, intrepid explorer, and Buddhist scholar — had travelled across Asia, visited Tibet when it was closed to travelers, befriended the Crown Prince of Sikkim, interviewed the thirteenth Dalai Lama, and lived as a hermit in a cave high in the Himalayas.

She did most of it in the 1920s, against the social mores of the time.  It’s a life that begs telling, and that’s what author Dianne Harke has done.

Harke launches her bookIncognito: the Astounding Life of Alexandra David-Neel on Thursday, October 5 at 7 p.m. at the Nelson Public Library.

 “I approached it as an ‘imagined biography,’ so as to bring the reader a fuller picture of an exceptionally intriguing person,” says Harke.  “When she travelled in 1923 to Lhasa, Tibet, she was 55 years old, a European woman travelling where no woman would travel at that time. She travelled in disguise, with a hidden gun. She was curious, and fearless.”

The novel, published by Sumuru Press, weaves together tales of David-Neel’s adventures and reflections and is illustrated with archival photographs and line drawings.  Said reviewer Kimberly Beek, “The author fairly channels Alexandra to give the reader a backstage pass into the spiritual seeker’s internal and external worlds.”

Dianne Harke has been a student of Buddhism as well as a teacher and a teacher-librarian, school library consultant, and librarian. She moved to Nelson in 2008, where she became actively involved in the community as a volunteer and board member.

Although she has published articles and essays, Incognito is her first full-length book.

Photo Caption: Author Dianne Harke

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