THE A5 BOOK REVIEW
The Kingdom by the Sea is Paul Theroux’s travelogue of his three-month journey in 1982, touring around the coast of Great Britain, mainly by train, and writing about his trip along the way. Theroux had lived in London for many years but felt the urge to learn more about the British people by visiting small towns and exploring the countryside. What was Northern Ireland like? Why do people joke about Bognor Regis? Were Scotland and Wales as breathtaking as everyone says? As always, his descriptions of people and insights into local beliefs are sharp and funny, especially as he somehow gets the British to actually open up about themselves. This was the summer of the Falkland War and the birth of the royal heir to the throne, Prince William, making for an interesting cultural backdrop.
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Notes from a Small Island (1995) & The Road to Little Dribbling (2015)
Those who like Theroux's account of his trip around Britain should also read Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island. Bryson and Theroux are arguably two of the best living travel writers, and reading both is a nice way to compare and contrast their styles. Bryson also wrote a follow-up book, The Road to Little Dribbling, telling the story of a second tour 30 years later.
A FEW OTHER A5 RECOMMENDED TRAVEL BOOKS FROM PAUL THEROUX (click here for more)
Paul Theroux is one of the world's most prominent travel writers, and one who deserves credit for shaping and defining the genre. We at A5 Travel Books love his rich description of people and settings, his wit and his intelligence. He has written numerous travel essays and works of fiction, several of which were turned into movies. See more from Paul Theroux here.
"And then I had my way; narrowly, around the entire coast. It answered every coast. There was only one coast, it was one undeviating route, and this way I could see the whole of Britain. In many respects, Britain was its coast - nowhere in Britain was more than 65 miles from the sea. Nearly the whole of the coast was unknown to me. So as soon as I had decided on this coastal route for my itinerary I had my justification for the trip - the journey had the right shape; it had logic; it had a beginning and an end; and what better way was there to see an island than by circumnavigating its coast?"
Paul Theroux, The Kingdom by the Sea
"It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know,
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
- Edgar Allen Poe, the beginning to a poem called "Annabel Lee"
MAP OF GREAT BRITAIN