I try to approach every book with a certain degree of impartiality and, for the first couple of chapters, give it the benefit of the doubt and let the book take the lead. If I get dragged along for the ride, and I usually do, it'll at least get a 'readable' comment and very few fail to meet the basic mark. This however was one of the few. I like my travelogues to be entertaining and educational - this was neither. The Daily Mail's review, quoted in part on the front cover read, 'Partly because it reverses all the preconceptions of travel writing, this book is a gem'. I'm not sure which preconceptions the reviewer was referring to. Perhaps the one that suggested it should be enjoyable. This one is not going on the bookshelf, it's heading for the Lifeline bin.
I did read quite a few of Bill Bryson's books some time ago and found them all entertaining and eminently readable although I did start to tire of his style, not because it's bad, simply because it became repetitive and a mite predictable. I picked this up a few weeks ago at the second hand bookshop in Bundy and it was a real delight to read. The book recounts one of Bryson's early trips, through much of the US, starting off in his home state of Iowa. Not one to mince his words, Bryson pours a large bucket of scorn on various aspects of American society and its self-serving principles. All the more amusing of course because he is an American.
Finally, and well out of my usual genre, was this offering written by Irène Nemirovski, a Jewish, Polish emigré in World War II France who was eventually sent to a concentration camp from which she did not return. The book, a gift from The Handbrake at Christmas, apparently comprises the first two parts of an intended five-part 'saga', sadly never completed. I embarked on it with some trepidation since I'd picked it up and put it back down at the Brisbane airport bookstalls numerous times on the basis that it wasn't my kind of book. After a bit of a slow start though, the various characters and plots become inextricably interwoven and it was very readable, reminding me in some small way of Balzac's eye for detail. It left me wishing it hadn't finished where it did - recommendation enough I guess.