Top positive review
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Statement of truth
on 3 June 2008
You'd think that a book entitled 'Real England' might have much of an audience north of Newcastle. But while the tales in this book, which detail the disappearance of local shops, the death of the farming community and the end of the pub, have a particular resonance for the English - who do retailing, farming and drinking better than just about anyone - the Scots, Welsh and Irish too can share the concerns raised in it. Because the sort of decline witnessed in this book is happening everywhere in Britain.
The book is relentlessly - and inevitably - depressing. That shouldn't be taken to mean that it isn't readable (on the contrary: I polished it off in a weekend). But the narrative throughout almost inescapably leads to the feeling that those small, almost unnoticed things that together made England special have passed forever. And yet... the author details pockets of resistance to the disappearing core of English life. Will this book inspire others to act, or simply a fine valedictory epitaph to England? Time will tell. But I urge you to read it either way.
I don't think other reviewers have mentioned the fantastic cover design - really clever and eye catching and a big factor in me picking up the book in the first place.