"England For All Seasons"

England For All Seasons by Susan Allen Toth

This is Toth's third book about England. I've read only this one but it's plain to see that she is completely in love with the place. She and her husband, James, have spent a lot of vacation time there staying in different areas and immersing themselves in their surroundings, exploring and walking until they really know the area they're in.

They stay in apartments or cottages that put them in the center of their chosen destination, searching out local concerts, bookstores, fairs, theaters and restaurants. They visit whatever churches, museums, country houses and ruins may be in the area and they walk the woods, cliffs and beaches until they feel they know the place. The next time they may choose another section of England or maybe Wales or Scotland.

As travel books go, I liked this but it was missing a key part of what makes a travel book so enjoyable for me: there was very little written about their encounters with local people. It's those stories that make a travel story come alive. I like to read what real people's lives are like in a other places, how they spend their days, what they work at and do for fun, what they cook for breakfast. Toth gives us great descriptions of the various places they stay, but I wanted to rub shoulders with the people too.  

She talks a lot about the gardens they visited, it seems to be one of their favourite things, and a lot too about the castles and ruins. Some of the museums they toured sound amazing and times they spent on the coast, any coast, made me want to be there with them. All of that was wonderful.

There were one or two sections I found boring where I had to push through a section of details about some museum exhibit till I got to another section that would hold my attention. It wasn't a problem with the writing; it's really quite well written and enjoyable to read. I just wasn't interested in some of the things she was. I came out feeling like I knew England better though and over all it was a very good read.


Post a Comment