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Horseback Journeys of Celia Fiennes - 1000 miles across England by Elizabeth Barrett
How, you might ask, could two disparate women separated by the course of time find anything in common? More than three hundred years stood like mighty markers between the lives of Celia Fiennes and Elizabeth Barrett. Wars had been waged. Mighty empires had risen, then fallen. The very fabric of human existence rose like a mute testament against a bonding between such diverse souls.
How then indeed did Celia manage to reach across that invisible sea of years, across those countless waves of calendared days, and sweep away the mist of time in such a way that she so deeply touched the life of her fellow Englishwoman?
This simple miracle occurred because both Celia and Elizabeth are fabled equestrian travelers in their own age, and both of them having explored their island kingdom on horseback!
Celia Fiennes (pronounced "Fines") rode and lived from 1662 to 1741. The daughter of a Cromwellian colonel, she travelled through all the counties of England in the latter part of the 1600s. Her purpose was to improve her mind and to seek out adventure in a ladylike fashion. She left a private diary in which she described both her observations of English life and the beauties of a world long, long gone.
Late in the 20th century another English woman, another equestrian traveler, another adventurous soul set out on horseback to look for traces of Celia's lost world. This is the moving and poetic account of that journey. It is the story of Elizabeth's search for Celia. At times amusing, often fascinating, and always interesting, Elizabeth intertwines both her own ride into the unknown with that of her fabled equestrian predecessor.
Thus Elizabeth has written a lively account of her equestrian experiences and compared them to Celia's Northern Journey of 1697, and the East Anglian section of Celia's Great Journey of 1698. Following Celia's route as nearly as possible, the result is a unique 20th century adventure set against the quiet bridleways of the 17th century.
Here then is not the story of one equestrian adventure, nor even of one equestrian heroine. Here is the unique tale of twin lives bound up in the love of one country as seen from that altar of travel, the saddle.
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