Acerbic but entertaining: a good read for Anglophiles and prospective visitors.

An expatriate rediscovers the country he left behind and lets the chips, including the one on his shoulder, fall where they may.

The author, a former teacher who left England somewhat accidentally for New Zealand, returns quite calculatingly after 18 years to write a book about what he will discover. His mission is to recreate a 1926 motor tour taken by once-popular British writer H. V. Morton, who drove “a Bertie Wooster car [and had] Bertie-Woosterish encounters that he reported in Bertie-Woosterish style.” Morton’s aim was “to find the real England,” and Bennett follows in his tire tracks from London west to Cornwall, Wales, the Midlands, the industrial North and back again. This circuit encompasses some of the country’s most visited locales, including those depressingly “tarted up” (in the author’s view) for the tourist trade. Bennett provides a candid impression of these byways and the people who now live there, waiting to welcome—or not—the casual visitor and share—or not—their revered—or not—heritage. The landscape has changed since the days of Morton. The growth of street crime is reflected in police warning signs posted in even the most secluded villages. The culture of the motorway itself, with BMWs and Volkswagens streaming off the major routes into local car parks, has been permanently altered. Bennett travels across empty windswept moors and private green glades. He visits pubs and has random encounters in the streets. In the face of waning traditions and modern tensions, he still manages to capture the essence of England.

Acerbic but entertaining: a good read for Anglophiles and prospective visitors.

Pub Date: June 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-7432-7627-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Headline

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2007



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955