Monday, January 20, 2014

The Kingdom by the Sea: Review

Random thoughts on The Kingdom by the Sea by Paul Theroux which was chosen primarily to fulfill "Non-Fiction &/or Travel" requirements for a few challenges--and because I'd heard about Theroux and his books before and thought it might be interesting:

Just starting out...I'm wondering why Theroux bothered to do a walking (well, mostly walking, but sometimes taking a train) tour of Britain and then write about it.  He doesn't really seem enamored with England.  He doesn't really seem to be enjoying his trip 'round the coastline of Britain.  He seems depressed and disgruntled.  And he seems like such a snob towards most of the British public.

There are, however, some nice descriptive moments--here and there; briefly.  Such as those that take place in Folkestone.  Theroux meets a Mr. Walter Dudlow who had once been a gardener and who at 79 extremely proud of his dancing and his neat dancing feet.  We, just from Theroux's brief description, like Mr. Dudlow a lot--even though Theroux makes it clear that he doesn't.  He isn't even willing to humor the older gentlemen and congratulate him on his agility at such an advanced age.  He just comments on how Dudlow is fishing for the compliment.

And Theroux is like that about Britain in general.  Almost everywhere he goes is "dull" and "colorless" and even when he likes a place ("But I still liked Hastings...") he doesn't stay long and give us a good look 'round to see why he likes it.  He just ups and leaves and starts back on his depressing little journey.  It's a good thing I already know how much I want to go to Britain and that Mr. Theroux isn't influencing me much--'cause I can't say that his travel book is much of an advertisement for the place.  

I realize that he was there in 1982 and what with the war in the Falklands and all that it wasn't exactly a time to catch Britain at her best.  But, again, I ask--why did he write the book?  He doesn't really seem to want to go on the trip round the coast once he gets started on it; he doesn't seem to be enjoying it while he's going; and he doesn't seem to be satisfied once he's finished.  Why did he bother?  Which is kind of what I'm asking myself after putting the book down--why did I bother?  (Oh yeah...all those reading challenges.)  One star.

6 comments:

LuAnn Braley said...

The guy sounds like a real putz. It does make me wonder, though, why, if he hated the place so much, did he bother to write a book about Britain? Next time he should go someplace more suited to his nature ... I don't know ... Siberia, Antarctica?

Bev Hankins said...

LuAnn: Supposedly he has better books out there (on China, for instance). Maybe he was just in a funk when he did this one...

bookdout said...

Thanks for sharing your review, A shame you found it so disappointing :(
Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

BookPlease said...

That's a shame! Have you read Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island? I really enjoyed that book.

fredamans said...

Well, you bothered so we won't have to... LOL... I love this review!

Bev Hankins said...

Freda: Glad to take the hit for you.

Margaret: I've since heard about the Bill Bryson's book...I hope to read that sometime in the future.

Bev