Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven (Abridged‪)‬

    • 3.6 • 17 Ratings
    • $14.99

    • $14.99

Publisher Description

Bestselling author Susan Jane Gilman's memoir is a hilarious and harrowing journey—a modern heart of darkness filled with Communist operatives, backpackers, and pancakes. 

They were young, brilliant, and bold. They set out to conquer the world. But the world had other plans for them.

Bestselling 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.

Biographies & Memoirs
Susan Jane Gilman
hr min
March 24
Hachette Audio

Customer Reviews

OCAngel ,

Disappointment Set In Halfway Through

This story started off with such promise, but once it was revealed what was to be the climax the mood quickly soured. What is supposed to be this incredible adventure turns out to be no more incredible than any other young girl's crazy experience while growing up. Granted, most young girls don't get to travel to China, but I didn't purchased this book to read a travel log. What Susan and Claire went through happens everyday anywhere there are girls growing into womanhood. Ho-Hum.

The exact turning point for me was the chapter where the author, while describing the "event", launches into such overly dramatic and flowery language that I almost gagged. Instead I rolled my eyes and looked to see how much longer before I would be done with this book, so I could move on.

I rated this book 3 stars, because I did enjoy the first 3/4 of the story. Ms. Gilman writes in a way that readers can see themselves in her characters. I would recommend the book with a caution not to have high hopes.

A final warning. I do not recommend listening to the interview with the author. She comes across as hard and cold, unlike her character in the story. Also, I could do without the political statements and the America bashing.

kyjd75 ,

Interesting, Fun, Incredible story of a college graduation adventure . . .

Not the kind of book I normally read, but I love true travel stories, so I thought I'd take a chance on this one. Turned out to be a somewhat incredible tale of two yong women and their attempt to travel the world, starting in China (in 1986 not the best place to start). Their journey goes astray almost immediately and only gets worse. Thankfully, perfect strangers come forth to save them from their "doom" and in so doing restores the reader's faith in the basic goodness of the human spirit. I really enjoyed this one, and recommend it to all.

xtian90069 ,


Gilman is a master story teller – this author reads in a tone that is spellbinding. You will be transfixed by her tales.

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