In his introduction to this gorgeous book, the author remarks how the term "Anglophile" is usually applied to people not actually from England. And perhaps you have to be, in the usual course of things, someone from another country or at least someone who's been away from England for some time to fully appreciate what this country has to offer. But Peter Ashley is one exception.
When I was very young, a typical Sunday afternoon family activity was "going for a drive." It seems odd in these days of exorbitant petrol prices, carbon footprints and M25 jams that anyone would voluntarily get into their car and drive off, semi-aimlessly, just for the fun of it. This book is like being taken on nine such drives through different English counties on routes that the tour buses haven't yet cottoned on to. These are tours of discovery - of landscapes, buildings, towns and natural features, and their stories.
The photos range from breathtaking vistas to curious close-ups, from haunting derelict buildings to details of signs and shop windows, all taken with an eye for unusual beauty. The text is a lovely mix of history, local tales, literary and film references and the author's own personal reminiscences, all seamlessly woven together into a compelling whole.
I have one tiny quibble which it seems almost churlish to mention given the overall quality of the book, but I did find the very small print of the photo captions a little difficult to read. However, this didn't detract from my overall enjoyment - 5 stars from Germany!