Brue, visiting a hammam in Paris, feels inspired to open one in New York
and, wondering how to go about this, sets off on a tour of baths round
the world taking in Turkey, Greece, Russia, Finland, and Japan.
It's a thoroughly delightful, often amusing, account of Alexia's search
for the perfect bath. Once started, the book is difficult to put down;
by the end, you not only know a bit more about her 'on hold'
relationship with Charles, and want to know even more about her
fascinating putative business partner Marina, but you have painlessly
absorbed as much information as you could want to know about the
differing characteristics of a variety of national public baths. Along
the way, you will also have met a number of characters who are not easy
to forget, and you will have a guide to which baths to use and which to
avoid—of not inconsiderable benefit to one visiting Turkey who, like
Alexia, is warned to avoid the 'unhygienic' baths in Istanbul.
has her own website
which includes reviews of the American edition, brief excerpts from each chapter,
and the evocative line drawings by Lynda Reeves McIntyre which appear at
the head of each chapter. The UK edition had an
page review in the Guardian's Saturday review section.
page revised 14 November 2015