There are two kinds of people who will enjoy this book; those who go camping and those who don't.
In many ways, you might say that Emma Kennedy is an ambassadeur for camping in the same way that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is for McDonalds, but it isn't as simple as that. The book is written from the perspective of a little girl who had no option but to be taken along on what she calls "her family's disastrous attempts to go camping in the 1970s". So it is about camping then, but it is also an acutely observed social commentary on life during the decade that some people would rather forget. If you think this is rather a precocious set of memoirs from a girl of about eight years old you would be right - partly, because Emma does pay tribute to her parents, who withstood endless hours of interrogation to fill in the missing details and to interpret certain events that must have been bewildering to a youngster of such tender years.
Be warned readers, for this is camping in the raw; be prepared for tales of epic struggles against the elements; for near-death experiences; for close encounters with unfeasibly large quantities of human body waste. Be prepared to laugh out aloud until your stomach ties itself in knots.
Let's be frank - taken at face value, this book might put prospective campers of a nervous disposition off the whole idea for life, but for those who have "been there and done that", this book will make them chuckle knowingly at all the tales of misery and misfortune, yet make them keener to get out there and do the whole thing all over again.
This is a book that you can dip in to, read a chapter and then return to another day, so ideal for holiday reading, or any other time come to that.
A mere mention of this book to my parents, set off a chain of events that required the retrieval of old photo albums and dog-eared maps from bottom drawers, all to settle such arguments about where it was when we returned to the site to find a cow in our tent and which site we were on when we were flooded out in the middle of the night.
Emma might have not have been converted to the merits and benefits of camping, but it has obviously provided her with a wealth of lifelong memories that we would have been all the poorer for not sharing. This has definitely been one of the funniest and most satisfying books I have ever read, so all I can do is urge you to read it. In spite of everything, you might even feel a sudden urge to go camping, which you should do, if only for the sake of your children.