The Kingdom by the Sea: A Journey Around the Coast of Great Britain

by Paul Theroux | Travel |
ISBN: 0140071814 Global Overview for this book
Registered by Gooner of March, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom on 11/26/2003
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2 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Gooner from March, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, November 26, 2003
I read this years ago, and wonder if anyone else would like it?

Updated 27 February, 2004:

It's off to bookgroupman as soon as the post office opens. Hope he enjoys it.

Journal Entry 2 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Tuesday, March 02, 2004
Thanks Chris - I know i'm gonna like this. The first thing I found dipping in, looking at Criccieth, where my wife has family, Theroux talks to a transexual travel writer! (shouldn't this be Louis rather than Paul Theroux??)

10/01 - review to follow

Journal Entry 3 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Paul Theroux travels around the British coast clockwise, walking where possible, filling in the gaps or unwalkable sections by train & bus. I found it a very frustrating travelogue; Theroux is capricious, making seemingly arbitrary choices about where to stay, which towns or whole stretches of coast to miss out. I suppose with 7000 miles to cover, and, probably, a publishing deadline to meet, he had to do this? Some towns were reduced to a glimpse from a train window, or a sweeping generalisation, or a sound-bite from a local. Although set in the mid 80’s, if reminded me a bit of 1950’s newsreels; knotted hankies & windbreakers on the beach, vox pop from a man in a flat cap, smothering blowsy landladies... This struck me as a bit of a lazy book, scraping the barrel of critical journalism wherein lurks cynicism, condescension & stereotyping. The worst sin for me was that I don’t think PT enjoyed himself enough, nor did he respect the people, the places and the history. I know it can be funny to laugh at silly foreigners and cultural differences (Bill Bryson does it better than most), but travel writers are passing through and merely glimpsing another world. If everything is grim, or crass, tacky or sad, doesn’t that really mean that the writer just doesn’t understand his subject matter, or has no empathy for his subjects?

On the positive side, PT does write well (in patches) when describing the coastal scenery, and some of the evocations of people & places is poetic. I didn’t learn much about our islands, but I learnt a lot (or at least the views of a New Englander in London) about our habits as islanders.

Journal Entry 4 by BookGroupMan at on Saturday, January 15, 2005

Released 14 yrs ago (1/15/2005 UTC) at

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Released at our 2nd Ipswich meet-up

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