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Mrs.P's Journey: The Remarkable Story of the Woman Who Created the A-Z Map [Paperback]

Sarah Hartley
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

4 Mar 2002
MRS P'S JOURNEY is the enchanting story of Phyllis Pearsall. Born Phyllis Isobella Gross, her lifelong nickname was PIG. The artist daughter of a flamboyant Hungarian Jewish immigrant, and an Irish Italian mother, her bizarre and often traumatic childhood did not restrain her from becoming one of Britain's most intriguing entrepreneurs and self-made millionaires. After an unsatisfactory marriage, Phyllis, a thirty-year-old divorcee, had to support herself and so became a portrait painter. It is doing this job and trying to find her patron's houses that Phyllis became increasingly frustrated at the lack of proper maps of London. Instead of just cursing the fact as many fellow Londoners probably did, Phyllis decided to do something about it. Without hesitation she covered London's 23,000 streets on foot during the course of one year, often leaving her Horseferry Road bedsit at dawn to do so. To publish the map, and in light of its enormous success, she sets up her own company, The Geographer's Trust, which still publishes the London A-Z and that of every major British city. MRS P'S JOURNEY is the account of a strong, independent woman who has left behind an enduring legacy.

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Mrs.P's Journey: The Remarkable Story of the Woman Who Created the A-Z Map + A. to Z. Maps: The Personal Story - From Bedsitter to Household Name
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; New edition edition (4 Mar 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743408764
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743408769
  • Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 130,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Sarah Hartley is commissioning editor at the DAILY MAIL. Prior to that she worked on TATLER, FRANK and most recently THE TIMES. This is her first book.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected 2 Aug 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What attracted me to this book was the prospect of reading about the development of the A-Z map. Maybe I didn't read between the lines of the front cover properly. Anyway, I didn't really expect to spend quite so long reading about Mrs P's parents. It is not until page 204 that Mrs P decides to write the A-Z, and when it happens there is not enough detail. I admit that Mrs P's early life is interesting but I found the emphasis rather poorly balanced considering the book's main selling point. It is also written in a rather confusing manner. Has Sarah Hartley not heard of chronological order? While it moves froward in time in a general manner the narrative constantly flits backwards and forwards a few years, often leaving one confused as to what exactly has happened. Massive potential here in the subject but could have been executed better.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Appallingly badly written 1 July 2010
Format:Paperback
I had to give up on reading this book. It was full of conjecture but all too often that is true of biographies, but what made it completely unreadable was the atrociously poor standard of English. It actually contained malapropisms! On every page there were passages which I can only describe as nonsense. Her father, as a young man, goes into a cafe where her mother, then a young girl, was waitressing. Her father noticed the the waitress is rather plain, and in the next sentence has proposed to her! It seems that the author made no attempt at all to think abuot what she was writing. It reads like a poor first draft. How on earth does such a poorly written book get published?

Don't waste your money, or your time, on this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mrs.P's Journey 30 Jun 2010
A Kid's Review
Format:Paperback
Didn't finish this, I found it tedious. Not a lot about how she did the A-Z, more about her weird family.Some stuff did not ring true so I thought half of it was made up.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Completely misses the point 1 Jan 2009
Format:Paperback
I was very disappointed with this book. Clearly Ms Hartley fell in love with Mrs Pearsall's dysfunctional (but not actually very interesting) parents and spends most of the book talking about them. It takes the first 200 pages to get to the A to Z and then there is only a token discussion, if anything it shows how little research or passion the author has about mapmaking or the geography of London. The book requires significant editing and as other reviewers have noted it is very poorly structured. My best guess is that Ms H wrote a magazine length article in Chapter 24 and then got so fascinated with the family, she chose to write the remaining 30 odd chapters around it. Dont bother buying it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars confusing 12 Sep 2008
Format:Paperback
This is an unusual book, in as much as the author seems more interested in writing an emotional story of a stressful childhood and eventual triumph rather than an biography. I agree with other reviewers - the chronology is confusing, and the accuracy of Phillis's autobiography on which it is based is questionable - her brother disputes some of the facts. We are told what her parents felt, although the author cannot possibly know. There is very little about the A-Z itself, and what role it played in in making London more accessible - it is intimated that all that was avilable before this were 1919 ordnance survey maps, but the illistration of the first A-Z cover states that it is larger than other similar street atlases. It is also difficult to know what Phillis's contribution was - we are told she walked the streets, and collected house numbers, but how did she deal with surveying all the new roads which had come into existance since 1919? This is a missed opportunity to cover an interesting subject.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Right from the beginning of this book I was absorbed into the chaos of Phyllis Pearsall's family. Both she and her father were inveterate liars and throughout the book the reader is invited to make choices between different versions of the same incidents. This contributes to a somewhat haphazard account, but at the same time emphasises the difficulties which this extraordinary family encountered and overcame. Alongside the family dramas and romances there runs an informative account of the history and development of cartography, and a real insight into society life as seen by people 'on the fringe'.We get to know Phyllis as a daughter, sister, friend, wife and business woman - but above all we get to know her as an artist.I found her singlemindedness, determination and philosophical acceptance of set-backs quite inspiring. A satisfying and amusing read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Babs
Format:Paperback
This is an object lesson in how to make a potentially interesting subject very dull indeed. The author rambles with no thought for chronology and has created a very convoluted story. The only time that she ditches her somewhat florid prose is in the sections that deal with the technicalities of cartography. Leaving aside the argument of who actually invented the A-Z as we know it today, Phyllis Pearsall's background and story would make interesting reading in the hands of a different author.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars How NOT to write a biography 2 Jun 2005
Format:Paperback
This is an extraordinarily badly-written book, doing the subject no favours at all. There are countless factual and chronological errors (such as having a hospital full of war wounded men, two months before the war has begun). The life of 'Mrs P' is really not put into context at all, and we get very little idea of what she was actually like in her adult years. There is far too much about her parents and too little about the reception of the 'A-Z' and how it changed life in London.
What ought to have been a truly fascinating and revealing book is both irritating and disappointing
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