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AutoHarp Quarterly – Fall 2006

New York Times – March 12, 2006

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The author of a witty memoir chronicling the adventures and intimate journey of self discovery of a middle-aged divorced woman’s solo trek through the heart of Africa and Asia will launch a multi-city book tour, encouraging readers to take risks at any age.

In the memoir, Madam, Have You Ever Really Been Happy? An Intimate Journey through Africa and Asia, author Meg Noble Peterson, approaching sixty and newly divorced after thirty-three years of marriage, sets off alone on an eight-month odyssey that takes her from the crowded streets of Cairo and contentious apartheid South Africa to India’s magnificent Taj Mahal and the peaks of the Himalaya.

Traveling on a shoestring and making plans as she goes along, Peterson dares to venture off the beaten path, carrying only a backpack, camera, and journals. She rides on dilapidated buses through Egypt and Zimbabwe and squeezes into hot, crowded trains in India. In Kenya, she encounters roadblocks and Masai warriors, and in Nepal she finds romance with an Austrian scientist. Abandoned at 14,000 ft. by their drunken guide, the two climb to Everest Base Camp through the snow and ice, and are almost buried by an avalanche before they reach Kala Patar at 18,500 ft.

As a woman traveling alone in 1987, Peterson confronts male chauvinism and harassment, which tests her ingenuity and ability to fend for herself. Often drifting back to her failed marriage and life in America, the book takes you into her inner journey and the adventures that changed her understanding of herself and the world. During her travels, she begins to face the world as a whole person, not half of a couple.

Madam offers details of the exotic locales that Peterson visits, yet also poignantly describes her interactions with the people she meets along the way. Landing in each new country she navigates her way through, quickly making friends and accepting the kindness of strangers.

Peterson develops friendships with her guides who give her personal insight into the culture and people of the places she visits. On several occasions, she boldly breaks down barriers between the local guides and Western tourists by encouraging them all to eat together – a practice not often done.

A mother of five grown children, Peterson concludes her book with a tribute to her eldest son, Christopher, who lost his battle with AIDS in 2001. Chris, also a world traveler and the primary connection to home throughout this trip, has been an inspiration behind her future travels around the world.

This is a memoir with broad appeal for all ages and for anyone who yearns to travel off the beaten track, never knowing what might lie just around the corner.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: MEG NOBLE PETERSON, a freelance writer and world traveler based in Maplewood, New Jersey, has spent most of her professional life in the field of music education. She’s written and arranged thirty-eight books for the Autoharp and classroom instruments, traveling extensively to give lectures and workshops. She also co-authored a play that was produced in Deerfield, MA, and has had her essays published in the New York Times, Newsday, and The Christian Science Monitor.

Madam, Have You Ever Really Been Happy?
by Meg Noble Peterson
Paperback/$26.95/432 pp.
IBSN: 0-595-34601-4
Publication Date: June 2005

Book may be purchased at or by calling 1-800-AUTHORS and is also sold online through the Ingram Book Groups, Baker & Taylor,, and Barnes &