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Customer Review

4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing all round, though with some merit for coach tours / sights driving., 2 July 2009
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This review is from: The Companion Guide to Sicily: New Edition (Companion Guides) (Paperback)
A reader can tell that the history section is a reasonably "choice" production. By this I mean that it has been quite comprehensively made a short edit, and it's reasonably well edited for shortness, which is appreciable. However it often lacks interest, is quite sullen and pedestrian, and the well shortened editing, with choice condensing seems to be the only commendation for the history section. However, that merit alone adds to an overall impression of robotism, with little of interest. Though there is, of course, a lot to be pleased with for well chosen, condensed editing of sources of information into short sentences and phrases, the end effect here is a bit like auditing has taken place, as it's all a bit inhuman, with little of character to grab you.

Maybe I'm being a little unfair - some people would say that many guide books are going to be that way, but this book left me cold when I don't so often find that. I don't want to go against the good condensing in the editing in itself, it is something, for me the main thing in the book, to value also.

I've only given this book 2 stars out of 5 because, unless you're "doing" most of the island or a lot of the island - you will have paid twice the price of other guide books for no pictures, reasonable mundaneness in writing, and actually, the worst thing about this book, little information for your trip.

I was very surprised about the last part. The information on Palermo is something I suppose worth buying the book for but only if you don't mind the inflated price. I was very surprised that there was so little information on each little part of the island because the book is probably the thickest guide book you will find. How does it happen? The width of the book is small, and the pages are, say compared to a Rough Guide guidebook of 10 years ago, much, much, much thicker.

You're paying for quality pages - the paper itself. I know I'd so muhc prefer to have a Rough Guide - the thin pages with appreciable information, a good lot of information on most places I could find and want in particular countries (including huge Canada for example, where I travelled) which was well organised.

I want to give the example of myself - Sicily is a very large island in the Med. and I chose to go to the Trapani region. Of the places I went to and nearby, there was little at all mentioned. And that's more or less typical for visiting the island, with the exception of extended information on Palermo.

The style is drab often, there is nothing spicy, little evidence of the author knowing much about human interest or phrasing so to create interest, or thinking conceptually so to write interestingly.

I was very disappointed with this book. I got an old Blue Guide as well, which was better, although not much. You do find with Blues, Lonely Planets, and Rough Guides, it can be quite hit and miss - the Canada Rough Guide I mentioned above was admittedly one of their best I came across. But none of those I've read have SO little detailed info. around the area covered. This guide very, very well typifies the old style of guide for coach tour tourists which concentrates on the 'big name' destinations largely. It is the opposite of the supposed style of guide that came about in the last decades of the last century, starting to offer guides to wander about anywhere in a region or country.

I made a guess that I would get more of the latter with this very independent, little publishing outfit, guide. I guessed wrong - it's a real throwback. Or I suppose, if you like, that's easily what you could be looking for - if you're a coach tourist type or are driving around and basically are going to choose the well known, much visited spots. That's popular, and this guide would suit, except that I certainly can't call it a guide that is much interesting, provocative or anything other than basically functional for that type of guidebook.

I just don't see the point in paying around twice the price of other guidebooks just to own super quality, thick pages themselves, which make a real weight in your luggage if you're not driving. This is a really important point if you're going to Sicily and only, say, one region - there is not much point in buying this book over other, better guide books. If you're having coach tours of most of the island, going to the 'big name' places, then this book is O.K. (only), to back up what you hear on your guided itineraries, or if you're driving for your information.

Verdict: A poor companion for my type of travelling.
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Location: United Kingdom

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