Top critical review
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Pretentious, opinionated and useless as a source book.
on 17 September 2001
If you are looking for a detailed guide to Oxford, don't bother with this book. It is the author's personal - rather idiosyncratic - view of the city. And although it may be crammed with interesting facts you have to read the entire thing to find anything of relevance to your own interests.
Morris loves to present her personal experiences as typical and to dress it all up in a writing style that is just dying to impress. If you know the city you'll be hard pressed to match her stereotypes to reality, and if you don't you'll be disappointed that the city isn't as other-worldly as the one she portrays.
Chapter headings are not just unhelpful but baffling. There is no obvious structure to the book and any interesting snippets are scattered throughout. To cap it all there is also no bibliography, so her word is final.
As a work of fiction it is dense and satisfying. But if you want your questions about the real Oxford answered you'll be disappointed.