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Pies and Prejudice: In search of the North Paperback – 7 Feb 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 150 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press; First Thus edition (7 Feb. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091910234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091910235
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (150 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,079 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Stuart Maconie is the best thing to come out of Wigan since the A58 to Bolton" (Peter Kay)

"An heir to Alan Bennett ... stirring and rather wonderful" (Anthony Quinn Sunday Times)

"Funnier than Bill Bryson. There's lots to love about Maconie's North - even for Southern Jessies" (Metro)

"Maconie makes a jovial, self-deprecating narrator. Sharp and funny" (Guardian)

"A lyrical, passionate, humorous and argumentative tour du force ... Imagine Nick Danzinger meets Nik Cohen meets Ricky Tomlinson and you've got the perfect blend of humorously incisive northern-travel writing. An early contender for best travel book of the year." (Big Issue North)

Book Description

A hilarious journey in search of the real North, northerners and northernness, from the bestselling author of Cider With Roadies

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I happened to buy Stuart Maconie's excellent guide to the North - part Bill Brysonesque comic travel guide, part a genuinely heartfelt portrait of everything he loves about the area - just before going on an extensive driving tour for my work, incorporating many of the cities described. Not only was it an excellent companion on my travels, but I found out so much I didn't know, even though I have spent a great deal of time in the North over the years.

What is so engaging about Maconie's prose is that he is fully aware of the prejudices that exist about the North and about specific cities and nods to them jokily while leaving no one in any doubt that stereotypes and oversimplifications are just that.

His passion for music and history come out on almost every page but it is the humour that sells it - showing once again how a light touch can make some very serious social and political observations. I challenge anyone - Southerners included - not to enjoy this and learn from it.

Even when Maconie makes little mistakes (it's LOUIS Tussaud's in Blackpool and he seems to have merged two separate Viz characters into one) he's easily forgiven because he passes on such a wealth of fascinating and frequently laugh-out-loud material (a passing reference to how people mispronounce 'Clitheroe' being a case in point!)

I guarantee it'll change your perception of Wigan at the very least.
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By Bantam Dave TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 April 2007
Format: Paperback
A few years ago Charles Jennings wrote a book called 'Up North'. This was a deeply mean-spirited book in which Southerner Jennings basically rubbished all things North. I well rememember reading it because by the time I had finished the book was falling to pieces from being regularly thrown at a wall in disgust!

Stuart Maconies effort is much more to my liking, mainly because it is written by a Northerner who actually knows what he is talking about. Okay, both Maconie and myself are biased, but even so Pies and Prejudice is a much better read that I should imagine can be enjoyed by even the most died in in wool Southerner.

As Maconie states early on that this is not meant to be a comprehensive account of all towns in the North. Some major cities - Sheffield for example, are given only the briefest of mentions and some none at all. This, to me almost unbelievably, includes York, surely the Norths jewel in the crown. Also, a little too much is written about Manchester and Liverpool although as this is Maconies 'home patch' I can forgive him that.

There is the occasional factual error (Charlie Williams born in Bradford? Tetleys brewed in Doncaster?) but in a book containing as many enjoyable snippets of information as this book does, again this is forgivable.

What I most like about the book though is that although I have already been to almost all the places mentioned in the book after reading Maconies descriptions and stories I now want to visit them again.
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By J. Grundy VINE VOICE on 15 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback
As I live in the East Midlands, I am one of those caught between stereo-types. To Southerners, well, we're in the North but we're not about to be accepted as true Northerners by the average Lancastrian or Yorkshireman (not to mention that neither are 'proper' Northerners according to Geordies or so it seems!). As such, people who live around here have a little insight into both camps as we're a minor melting pot. For example, one lad at my school had the proverbial ripped out of him when he referred to his midday meal as 'lunch' and not dinner as all right-thinking people do! Yes, some around here are confused too.

Personally speaking, as a son of a miner and a textile worker I regard myself as a dyed-in-the wool 'Northerner' in the kind of spirit that Stuart Maconie discusses at the end of his excellent book. But am doubtlessly wholly suspect due to the lack of a strong identifiable regional accent - we have one but I doubt many outside of this part of the country would recognise it. Alan Sillitoe when he wrote 'Saturday Night, Sunday Morning' - rightly identified as a great film in this book - was conscious that the accents in the film were totally wrong but if they'd been accurate no-one would have understood a word!

Nevermind all that, this book is an extremely well-written tour around parts of the North of England. It had the effect of making me want to visit some of the places mentioned and revisit others. I last went to Durham 20 years ago and want to go back. The author's dead right when he says that if the city was in the South it would receive much, much more attention.

With that example alone, I think Mr. Maconie makes his point. There is a Southern if not 'bias' but perspective in much of our media. As he says at the outset, the BBC doesn't have 'South of England' correspondent. Nuff said.

Cheers, Stuart, I'll look up your other books.
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Format: Paperback
Maconie is an accomplished and fluent writer and the book is an entertaining and illuminating love letter to the north. But his dislike, perhaps even contempt, for the south occasionally overshadows what is an otherwise very worthwhile account.

Is it not possible to love the north without hating the south? Maconie lambasts southerners and the London media for their preconceptions about the north, but as a southerner I don't recognise many of these attitudes. Sometimes it's just good-natured regional banter but I must admit I grew tired of turning a blind eye to all the southern stereotypes that Maconie uses to make his points. He seems to think we're all called Sebastian and Jocasta and eat polenta three times a day. I don't know why Maconie feels southerners like Brian Sewell are worth responding to, or the taxi driver he clashed with in London. Irritating they both may be, but they're hardly representative of the south in general. He also quotes north-disparaging books by southerners that I doubt more than a handful of people south of Watford have ever read, and perhaps even fewer in the north.

Occasionally it gets plain bizarre. Apparently Maconie walked over London's Millennium Bridge and "felt nowt, mate, because I'm northern", in contrast to the bridge in Gateshead that moved him. What exactly does that mean? It's a churlish and even childish statement that undermines some excellent descriptive writing elsewhere in the book.

Picking more holes (presumably it's a southern trait) I'd have to say that the book does feel like it was written in a hurry and it's let down at times by some factual inaccuracies and proofing errors.

But for all that, I really enjoyed it.
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