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on 15 July 2009
Mrs P's Journey is the true story of how Mrs P, a courageous tenacious lady set about charting and mapping in detail geographical districts of London, giving birth to what we now know as A-Z maps.

The biographer based the material for this book on Mrs P's recorded reminiscences made in her later years. The result is a fascinating compulsive read. Starting with a graphic account of a quite privileged yet at times deprived background. The reader is left in no doubt that this could have been a great advantage but her relationship with her parents is portrayed as cold and distant. As a result she is left on her own at times in straightened circumstances to make her own way in the world.

Hence, her determination, tenacity and grit shine through. This is an amazing story achievement in spite of the odds. The way that Mrs P set about charting and recording focts for inclusion on the maps is a comment on the time. In the early 1920's map writers were exclusively male and no publishing house was prepared to even consider her work. Indeed, the section dealing with her attemps to be taken seriously as a map writer is striking.

If it had not been for the outbreak of the Second World War we may never have seen an A-Z map. Early on the War Office became aware that more detailed maps were required and Mrs P came into her own. From this date her work was valued and published. But, unfortunately due to enemy action some of the early maps quickly needed rewriting. Her research into a bomb-damaged Britain is in itself a fascinating glimpse of post-war London.

The final chapeters focus on the worldwide publication of A-Z maps and the fact that as Mrs P did not own the copyright; it was the publishing house not her that made a loft of money from the publications.

Overall this is a great book, which in my opinion could have had a better title. I close with the question 'who says that women cannot read maps'?
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on 18 January 2016
A fascinating story for anyone who enjoys travel, loves biographies and reading about those who triumph in the face of adversity. My friend loved it.
Speedy delivery, great value and happily recommended.
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on 22 March 2016
A fascinating life well lived against a lot of odds!
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on 20 May 2015
Fabulous, inspirational story! Loved it :)
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on 2 August 2002
What attracted me to this book was the prospect of reading about the development of the A-Z map. Maybe I didn't read between the lines of the front cover properly. Anyway, I didn't really expect to spend quite so long reading about Mrs P's parents. It is not until page 204 that Mrs P decides to write the A-Z, and when it happens there is not enough detail. I admit that Mrs P's early life is interesting but I found the emphasis rather poorly balanced considering the book's main selling point. It is also written in a rather confusing manner. Has Sarah Hartley not heard of chronological order? While it moves froward in time in a general manner the narrative constantly flits backwards and forwards a few years, often leaving one confused as to what exactly has happened. Massive potential here in the subject but could have been executed better.
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on 13 May 2014
Very interesting story, one I have been looking out for for a long time. First heard about this author years ago then heard about her again on the radio so looked on Amazon for her books.
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on 1 February 2014
The A-Z bit only covered 30 pages well into the 2nd half of the book. Still a good read, Mrs P had a fascinating life.
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on 1 July 2010
I had to give up on reading this book. It was full of conjecture but all too often that is true of biographies, but what made it completely unreadable was the atrociously poor standard of English. It actually contained malapropisms! On every page there were passages which I can only describe as nonsense. Her father, as a young man, goes into a cafe where her mother, then a young girl, was waitressing. Her father noticed the the waitress is rather plain, and in the next sentence has proposed to her! It seems that the author made no attempt at all to think abuot what she was writing. It reads like a poor first draft. How on earth does such a poorly written book get published?

Don't waste your money, or your time, on this book.
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on 12 May 2001
I'm not normally a huge fan of biographies but I have just read Sarah Hartley's Mrs P's Journey and have to admit that I was forced to change my mind. This is a beautifully written account of Phyllis Pearsall's incredible journey through life, highlighting the many hardships she faced along the way with her amazing strength and courage.
It was fascinating to read about such an interesting character, hard to believe that she wasn't fictional. I could never have imagined that the A-Z was mapped by one indomitable lady, pacing the streets of London town with just her artist's map and her determination. She's an inspiration to us all. I highly recommend this book, not only is it a wonderful story but it has been so well written that I just couldn't put it down. Mrs P's Journey was very poignant in places and brilliantly witty in others. I'll be buying this one for all my friends!
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on 27 March 2007
I don't often read biographies, precisely because I find the need to back every point up with dates, places and name dropping gets in the way of the characters. However, I thought this book was genuinely fascinating, because the subject was such an unusual woman. I really believed in the character Hartley described and with a life that had a real story, an arc you can trace, not just the series of cocktail party anecdotes that fill so many people's memoirs and biographies.

I would definitely recommend this.
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