I found Paul Theroux’s account of his travels along the British coastline rather bit hard going. His achievement is undeniable, all the more so as I suspect to repeat his travels 20 or so years later would be a lot harder – in several chapters you’re made very aware that even in the early 80s the days of the coast-serving branch lines of Great Britain were numbered and by now many of them will have passed. And it was interesting to read an American (an anglo-friendly one)’s account of British attitudes to the Falklands War as those events unfolded in the North and South Atlantic.
So what didn’t I enjoy? I think it was the flip side of that sense of reading history – knowing that the people and places, the attitudes and environment that Paul Theroux talks about no longer exist, at least not as he describes them. And looking back to 1982 really does feel like reading history, and I was keenly aware of how little of it matched with my own memories as a 12 year growing up in the Birmingham suburbs, about as far from the sea as it’s possible to be.
Amazon.co.uk link: The Kingdom by the Sea – Paul Theroux