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Just As Well I'm Leaving: To the Orient With Hans Christian Andersen [Paperback]

Michael Booth
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 July 2006

Having been dragged against his will to live in Denmark, Michael Booth discovered one of the great secrets of travel literature - Andersen's A Poet's Bazaar - a fascinating travelogue through a Europe on the cusp of revolution, by an author who invented children's literature. He discovered, too, his chance to escape Denmark.

In 1840 Andersen was also desperate to flee, writing as he sailed: 'It is just as well I am leaving, my soul is unwell!' In Germany he was enraptured both by steam travel and the fiery Franz Liszt. In sultry Naples this latent bisexual wrestled with his erotic demons before travelling to Athens (little more than a village), seeing the dervishes dance in Istanbul, and sailing home up the Danube. Booth follows him every step of the way, reflecting on Andersen's life, work and pathological self-obsession, encountering his own cast of characters, from an accommodating Hamburg prostitute to a bemused Danish Ambassador to the first ever female dervish, who whisks him off to meet her guru.

Frequently Bought Together

Just As Well I'm Leaving: To the Orient With Hans Christian Andersen + The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia + Sushi and Beyond: What the Japanese Know About Cooking
Price For All Three: £28.47

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (6 July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099477459
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099477457
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.2 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 306,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Booth is an award winning English author and journalist.

He has written five books: 'Just As Well I'm Leaving - To the Orient with Hans Christian Andersen', which was nominated for an Irish Times first time author award; 'Sacré Cordon Bleu', a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week; 'Sushi and Beyond', which won a Guild of Food Writers award and has recently become a best seller in translation in Japan; 'Eat, Pray, Eat', which was nominated for a British Press Award; and the forthcoming 'The Almost Nearly Perfect People - The Truth About the Nordic Miracle'.

He has written for all of the UK broadsheet newspapers, as well as numerous magazines in the UK and abroad including Condé Nast Traveller and Monocle, for whom he is currently a correspondent. His books have been translated into several languages.

He is married with two sons.

Product Description


"Beautifully written and highly entertaining...pacey, conversational and unpredictable... Like an earthier Bill Bryson and, whisper it, funnier" (Independent on Sunday)

"Hilarious and deliciously cruel about Denmark... A surprising, passionate enquiry into this most enigmatic of men...should not be missed" (Scotsman)

"Booth's control of his material shines through. The mix of right-on comedic travelogue and expert disquisition is engaging... Highly recommended" (Times Literary Supplement)

"A clever book... Manages to function as both coherent biography and literary criticism... An astute, erudite book" (Guardian)

"A romp in the pleasing company of master and examples of the 'following in the footsteps' genre go, this one is livelier, wittier, better informed and more diligent than average" (Scotland on Sunday)

Book Description

A funny, moving travelogue following in the footsteps of Hans Christian Andersen.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By Corto
Being a native Dane living in Copenhagen, the year 2005 had me fed up with celebrations of the bicentenary of H.C. Andersen. You would think that an event like that would have you discover a few things about the man you didn't know, but sadly everyone was cycling through the same old stories over and over again. I therefore turned abroad to find literature on Andersen with a fresh angle. Luckily I discovered "Just as Well I'm Leaving". This is by no means your typical academic biography, and for a change the author isn't shy to deal with HCA's sexuality in an open and straightforward way. Mind you that this is an issue the danes always have been rather coy about.

This is by no means a scientific book, and it wouldn't be the first choice for the literary students. I would estimate that about a third of the book has absolutely nothing to do with HCA whatsoever, and throughout the book you do not at any point feel like you're being lectured on the life and time of HCA. In fact you find yourself cracking up with laughter every five minutes. This book is simply hilarious (maybe even over the top for the conservative reader) - and even though the jokes don't necessarily contribute much to conveying the substance, they make the book very entertaining and readable. I realize this sounds like the author didn't have much to offer on the subject, and therefore had to wrap everything in humor, but the amazing thing is that you're left with what feels like an exhaustive insight in exactly how and why HCA became what he did. Booth is like that teacher in school you loved for making lessons fun instead of consistently trying to cram hard facts into your head all day. I have grown up with the stories of HCA, but I never felt I knew him as well as after reading this.

So if you only plan on reading one book on HCA - and aren't studying fairy-tales at Oxford - read this.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just a travel book or an autobiography 23 Sep 2006
This book is first and foremost a really good read. Michael Booth has a very easy style, full of entertaining comments and anecdotes, which had been laughing out loud. You don't have to be a Hans Christian Andersen fan to enjoy this book - there is far more too it. If you have any knowledge of Denmark, you will love it even more!
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