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Lovely Book of Old Betjeman
on 28 November 2012
This is a really pretty little book, which rewards repeated dipping rather than a cover-to-cover read. The selection was largely unfamiliar to me and there is no obvious overlap with the other recent Betjeman collections I've bought, except for a tribute to Max Beerbohm which also appears in the wonderful `Tennis Whites & Teacakes'. Those expecting poetry will be disappointed though, as Betjeman appears to have penned very little of it for the Telegraph, but anyone familiar with his defence of Victorian architecture, and St Pancras station in particular, is in for a treat. The majority of the book is taken up with articles on Britain's landscape and buildings, starting with a charming travel column which I was surprised to see visit Huddersfield and Southend rather than more obvious destinations like, say, Manchester or Bath. On balance, I would have liked to see more of this kind of writing and fewer of his book reviews, where he seems generally less passionate and insightful, but overall 'Lovely Bits of Old England' sits very nicely with the rest of my Betjeman collection.