on 31 January 2009
This is Wordsworth at a gallop, but Hunter Davies knows how to spin out a good story and in this book, he hits the mark with every chapter.
There are lots of specialist books that deal profoundly with Wordsworth's poetry and obviously they have their place on a more academic level, but they can be a little over the head of the general reader.
To start with, Hunter Davies is a man that lives in and loves the Lake District. So when he is writing about the Lake Poets, he has a head start, and given that Wordsworth's life, apart from a short period travelling, was spent living and working in the Lakes, this then gives Mr Davies a clear line of thought on how to approach Wordsworth's life.
Wordsworth and the Lakes are synonymous, and this is exactly what Hunter Davies gives you, the life story of one of England's greatest poets living amongst some of the most stunning scenery in Britain.
Yes, Juliet Barker has written what has become the definitive biography, but at nearly 1,000 pages, can be a little overwhelming for the average reader. What you get with Hunter Davies is 350 pages of exciting reading, which will give the reader just enough of a taste for a more in-depth study of Wordsworth should it be required. Certainly a good starter book for getting to know Wordsworth and the Lakes.
on 20 October 2010
This is a thorough account of Wordsworth's life written for the curious reader who does not want to know much about the poetry, although each chapter does end with a poem. It is fast-paced and holds the attention all through. My main reservation (apart from its lack of analytical material on the works) is that it digresses away from its main theme at times. Do we really need to know so much about Coleridge or Southey, for example? Some parts lose track of the main character for several pages.
Otherwise, if you just want to know what Wordsworth was like, and are prepared for some extraneous detail, this is the book to tell you.