What a great book. Evelyn Waugh is more famous for books like Brideshead Revisited and A Handful of Dust, both of which are fairly tragic. He also wrote satirical, dark comedies like Scoop and The Loved One. This is a non-fiction book in which he attempts the travel genre, with in my view, stunning success. He ambles about using a cruise ship to transport him wherever his whims take him, commenting upon some of the usual sights you would expect, but also taking in local peculiarities, and more importantly people watching.
He has a wonderful turn of phrase and a delightfully irreverent approach to his commentary, he often addresses the reader directly, which makes for a much more conversational, intimate journey for the reader. He takes in the delights of France,Greece, Italy, Egypt and Algeria to name but a few. His dialogue about discovering the works of Gaudi in Barcelona is particularly charming and enthusiastic and his juxtaposition of the serious and silly works beautifully.
This is a book of its time, and in this way reminded me very much of the travel books of Lawrence Durrell which I also loved. It is worth reading, not because you will ever be able to retrace his steps, but precisely because you won't, and you are able to enter into a unique series of snapshots of a bygone era. Delightful.