The synopsis is exactly what you get on this journey walking the streets that run alongside the London Underground – but above ground.
There is so much interesting information shared – I found it fascinating. It’s not just historical information (which I love) but insights into the businesses, shops, architecture and residents that populate those streets that the author walks. He can tell how affluent an area is and how much a part of the hub of London a place is. In a way, this book reminds me of the work of Charles Booth – Charles Booth completed a survey into life and labour in London dating from 1886 to 1903.
Another fascinating thing I found was the psychology of walking and map-reading that the author explores. As his journey progresses, he is affected on a deeper level and he finds insights into why he enjoys walking and why he needs this challenge. There is a lot of philosophy on what the journey actually means to him.
Mark Mason writes with humour – it is not a long drawn-out read. I found myself saying to my husband, ‘do you know why …………………?’ and when he said no, telling him he would have to wait to read the book to find out!
It’s not always Mark Mason walking on his own. Geoff Nicholson who is the author of Bleeding London and The Lost Art of Walking joins him at one point. They walk together from Camden Town to Highgate. His mate Richard joins him for the part of Harrow-to-Uxbridge and he also completes a pub-crawl on the Circle Line with another mate.
I was intrigued by the Cake Circle created by the ex-pop musician, Bill Drummond. I love the reason why he started this - again, there is a philosophy behind this. I think I would probably be fazed if he rang my doorbell but would recover and invite him in for a cuppa!
My navigational skills are dire and I’ve always detested maps. However, reading this book has given me a different perspective. I don’t think I will ever feel the same again when I look at a map!
If you like Bill Bryson’s books then you will certainly enjoy this book.
I would like to thank Random House Books for sending me a copy to review.