Tuesday, 12 July 2011
Author: Mark Mason
Publisher: Random House Books
Release Date: 14 July 2011
As a lifelong fan of London, Mark Mason embarks on a mission to ‘conquer’ the capital once and for all. The only way to truly discover a city, they say, is on foot. Taking this to extremes, Mark sets out to walk the entire length of the London Underground – overground – passing every station on the way.
Over the course of several hundred miles, he comes to understand a sprawling metropolis that never ceases to surprise. In a story packed with historical trivia, personal musings and eavesdropped conversations, Mark learns how to get the best gossip in a City pub, how the Ritz made its female guests feel good about themselves, and why the Bank of England won’t let you join the M11 northbound at Junction 5. He has an East End cup of tea with the Krays’ official biographer, discovers what cabbies mean by ‘on the cotton’, and meets the Archers star who was the voice of ‘Mind the Gap’.
On a broader level, Mark contemplates London’s contradictions as well as its charms. He gains insights into our fascination with maps and sees how walking changes our view of the world. Above all, in this love letter to a complicated friend, he celebrates the sights, sounds and soul of the greatest city on earth.
I was contacted by Random House with the offer to review this book. As I love going to London, i thought this book sounded really interesting so I accepted. I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Mark Mason decides the best way to conquer London would to be to walk the entire Tube system overground. Dividing the lines up he walks from station to station. Picking up conversations, observations and facts about his surroundings.
Each Line is a new chapter and has a map of that line at the start of the chapter, so you can follow his progress throughout the walk. I settled in to read this book and found myself thoroughly enjoying it. Mark has a witty sense of humour and makes some great observations on his walk, filled with sarcastic comments, thought provoking discussions and interesting facts. This book had me laughing along with it and my feet itching to go back to London. Some parts in London I have visited so I could picture exactly where he was, other parts were new to me, but I could picture where he was and what the area was like from his observations.
I took this book to work with me to read in my lunch break and I already have three people waiting to read it. I would sit there giggling or going 'ooh' at certain facts so my colleagues would ask 'what's that about then' and just from sharing snippets and talking about the book, they are as fascinated as I was.
The writing style flows well and takes you into the heart of the book. I felt like I really was walking along with him (without the sore feet and aching legs on my part!)
If you love London or just want to know more about this great City I really would recommend this book. It will make you see London in a whole new light and give you the urge to explore.
I have to say I think his wife is very tolerant of what may seem like a pointless endeavor, I loved the interaction between them, and all the fabulous people he met on his journey brought a whole new perspective.
As a non-fiction book it took me slightly longer to read than fiction, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and was glad I read it.
I would give this book 9/10, funny, witty, interesting and inspiring. Stand back Bill Bryson, you've got competition, Mark Mason is on the scene.
Posted by barmybex at 16:28