Book review – Slow Coast Home, by Josie Dew

 

This book came highly recommended, and it was with much anticipation that I started reading it. What struck me immediately is that the author is the kind of person I like: she’s not overly organised, prefers wild-camping, and feels at home while cycle touring.

Consistently, throughout the book, Dew’s irrepressible sense of humour shines through, and her appetite for adventure is certainly enormous. The book tells the story of her cycling around the coast of England and Wales (time prevented her from also cycling around the coast of Scotland).

Her journey clocked up a massive 5 000 miles, and given that the distance between Land’s End and John O’Groats – the length of Britain – is around 850 miles, you might wonder how she managed to do that.

When you read the book, however, it soon becomes apparent – she even cycled the coast of some of the Channel islands! Dew had me laughing in several places, while reading this book, and I’ve no doubt you’ll be equally amused by it.

And yet, I don’t recommend it very highly at all. Why not? Quite simply, in places the book bored me. You see, when I buy a book about cycle touring, I want to vicariously share in the author’s adventures. I expect to read about good and bad things happening, interspersed with amusing anecdotes.

What I don’t expect is a reel list of place names, which I could read off a map, should I so feel inclined. The book probably could have been at least a third shorter, had all the mind-numbing and irrelevant details been stripped out.

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Yes, the UK has many quaint place names, and a wealth of interesting and fascinating history, but much as I enjoy learning about the UK (and I have a great deal to learn still, even after living here for 21 years) I don’t expect extremely detailed and in-depth history lessons about each place the author cycled through. I found that got tedious rapidly, and instead of looking forward to picking up the book to read it, it became a chore.

What certainly didn’t help is temperatures being listed in Fahrenheit. Yes, I’m aware that the US book market is far bigger, but if you’re going to change the measures used in your book to suit that market, use Celsius, then give the equivalent Fahrenheit in brackets. After all, on this entire planet, only two countries, the USA and Liberia, use Fahrenheit, while the rest of the planet uses Celsius.

Dew is an obviously talented writer, and a great adventurer, who is capable of producing far better books than this.

As I said in the beginning, the book came highly recommended, so it’s entirely possible that you might enjoy it just as much as the person who recommended it to me did. It’s entirely possible that I’m the odd one out here. However, this is my site, and my book review, so I’ll give you my honest opinion.

Try it – you may well enjoy reading this book. I did enjoy parts of it, but the tediousness of all the extreme overload of irrelevant information means I cannot give it a glowing review.

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It’s available from all good book shops, and online from here.

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