Anyway, the book. The story is that the author, Sarah Henshaw, puts herself seriously into debt by buying a narrowboat (named Joseph) to turn into a bookshop. It doesn't make much money permanently moored somewhere (oddly, I didn't catch where) so the author decides to take the boat on a trip around the canals of England and Wales, ostensibly to advertise the plight of independent bookshops which as we all know are, for one reason or another, struggling at the moment. No matter that her experience in the matter of canals and canal boats was nil, off she went determined to sell books, hold book group meetings, have author signings and so on.
All of these things were achieved to a greater or lesser extent and the book charts the author's experiences as she negotiates locks, meets people - both new to her and people who have read her blog or follow her on Twitter - and deals with various things that occur... quite often disasters of her own making. There is also a bit of talk about books which I quite enjoyed as I always like hearing about the books people love and why.
So why, oh why, did this book not really do it for me? It's quite hard to put my finger on to be honest. At no stage did I want to stop reading but I ended up giving it 'two' on Goodreads and even now I'm not sure if that's a bit unfair. The writing was fine and bits of it were interesting and even informative. I suppose I ran out of patience with the author. She was hugely in debt, family and friends clearly concerned for her and helping her out financially, and all the time it felt like she was just playing... at their expense. I feel that if you're going to do this kind of thing you should be able to fund yourself, and also be able to look after yourself as a responsible adult. To be honest, I felt at times like a young teenager had been let loose alone on the canals of England and Wales, when the author is actually in her late twenties. Worrying.
There was also a section of the book written from the narrowboat's point of view... Black Beauty style. And while this might sound quirky and fun, it just didn't work for me somehow. Although it served to illustrate that the author was aware that some of her beahviour was immature and she knew what people were thinking, I felt it to be a bit self-indulgent and yes... 'silly'.
If anyone really does want to read some good books about canal boating then I would highly recommend Terry Darlington's three books about the trips he and his wife and dog, Jim, took which are a total joy to read.
All in all, I think I need to be a bit more restrained next time I'm in Waterstones! Or go with a book list. Or something.