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A large picture book, but not your usual coffee-table one. This is redeemed by an underling seriousness; thus the lavishness displayed is merited. Having given us some 25 adventure novels, Innes now takes us on an excursion of a different sort--on his own stamping ground--East Anglia, a part of England often ignored by foreign visitors. Complementing his informed and graceful narrative are pages of splendid photographs by Neville Fox-Davies that capture the wondrous light and uniqueness of Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex. There seems to be one lovely church after another, an endless supply of exquisite villages and marvelous Tudor houses, old but lovingly kept. This is an area where people still make a living cutting reeds for thatch cottages. Windswept, threatened by the turbulent North Sea, it is not an easy land, but the author has found it a fertile and sustaining place in many ways. To his credit, Innes makes the reader itch to stand at the bar in one of the great timbered inns like the Swan or the Bull and order a flagon of ale. Since the author is a seaman, the rivers and coast come alive in his hands. In page after page, the vitality and austere beauty of land, water and always the light are presented as if freshly discovered. It is clear that the author--who learned to sail on Horsey Mere and has explored the coves, inlets and bays for many years--has never lost his fascination for East Anglia. The fens, marshes and estuaries will haunt the readers and set them to planning a visit. For Innes' sake, let's hope that his success in presenting his favorite counties does not bring down a flood of tourists on his head. If this happens, his magical evocation of East Anglia's charms is wholly at fault.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton--dist. by David & Charles