Simon, who is surely the most literate travel guide we have, moves through rural England with the same relaxed knowledgeability that made her tours of Paris, London, Mexico and New York such a rare pleasure. Whether she is gazing at York's magnificent Minster or the guild halls of that most medieval of English cities, following the trail of ""cream teas"" served in every hamlet in Devon, or making her way through wild Cornwall whose people are thought to be ""more foreign and mysterious than Sicilians"" by Englishmen from other counties, she is always in intimate touch with local history and legend: here is the parsonage where the Bronte sisters labored on their brooding novels; there the village of Battle commemorating the victory of William the Conqueror over the Saxons. Past and present merge effortlessly as Simon gracefully vivifies the special charm of the English countryside: ""the reserved manipulation of the old to serve the new."" Each chapter is followed by a very few words on where to find lodgings and the best restaurants in the area. To be enjoyed slowly as you wind your way by automobile from Northumbria to Surrey.