Yet another catch-up post from me. I'm reading quicker than I can review at the moment and two of these books are from May!
The Nine Of Us: Growing up Kennedy - Jean Kennedy Smith. This my second book for Carl's Venture Forth and covers the prompt, 'A non-fiction book'.
Next, The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan. This is my third book for Carl's Venture Forth covering the category of 'A Checkout from my local Library'. It's also my first book for #ProjectPlaces2020 which is being hosted by Rosemary at Scones and Chaise Longues.
Lastly, Footnotes: A Journey Round Britain in the Company of Great Writers by Peter Fiennes. This is my eighth book for Bev's Mount TBR 2020 and my seventh book for the European Reading challenge 2020, which is being hosted by Rose City Reader; it covers the country of 'The UK'.
Peter Fiennes' reason for writing this book can be summed up with this quote:
'Who are we? What do we want? They seemed like good questions to ask, in the company of our greatest writers, given these restless times'.
Fiennes decides to travel around the UK following in the footsteps of some of our most iconic writers. He begins his travels in Dorset with Enid Blyton who apparently always holidayed in Swanage. He believes her influence runs deep in all of us Brits and I think he's correct. She doesn't get a good press here for one reason or another and he suspects she was banned by the BBC too. As a child I read her avidly and then went on to read other books. So did my daughters and I know many other readers who had this experience. Perhaps a similar set of books these days would be Harry Potter, much maligned but incredibly popular and they get kids reading. Anyway, I liked the author's treatment of Enid, pros and cons, balanced. Next come two chapters on the travels of Wilkie Collins in Cornwall, fascinating and hilarious, I must read the actual book, Rambles Beyond Railways, a slim volume that I own. Celia Fiennes comes next (the author's cousin 10 times removed) a woman who went around Britain in the 1680s on a horse, impressive now, let alone then. Gerald of Wales (1188), Violet Martin and Edith Somerville, J.B Priestly, Beryl Bainbridge, and then Dickens and Wilkie Collins again travelling from Cumberland to Doncaster. There's a chapter on Samuel Johnson and James Boswell in Scotland, wonderful insight into those two. The book finishes with Dickens' last journey in a coffin, to Westminster Abbey, where he did not want to be buried apparently. So why do that? A bit much if you can't have a say in where they put you when you're dead, famous writer or no famous writer.
Anyway. I loved this book to bits. Yes, it was interesting, I learned a lot about what some of these world famous writers were really like, their quirks, their various travels and travails and so on. But most of all I loved Peter Fiennes's writing style. He's funny and down to earth and tells you the things you really want to know not a load of dry information. 'Real' writing. I've been reading pretty intensely from my tbr mountain during lockdown to try and remove a few books off the shelves and into the charity shop box. But this one's not going anywhere: I love it too much and it will be reread at some stage. After I'd finished it I immediately went to Amazon and downloaded his first book, Oak and Ash and Thorn: The Ancient Woods and New Forests of Britain. (I love that he took the title from Puck of Pook's Hill by Rudyard Kipling and naturally that made me get my copy of that out to reread.) I can't wait to read it or to see what he comes up with next, whatever it is I'll buy it.