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Wish You Were Here: England on Sea Hardcover – 8 Jul 2010

3.3 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; Reprint edition (8 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340935103
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340935101
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 2.5 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 797,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

'Elborough is an English nostalgist in the mode of John Betjeman... as a cultural commentator [Elborough] is a terrific companion... Wish You Were Here is quirky, chatty, charming and optimistic - an ideal read for the English beach.' (Frances Wilson, Sunday Times)

'Meticulously researched and trenchantly expressed, Wish You Were Here is as bright and breezy as a trip in a pleasure steamer.' (Daily Mail)

'In this brilliant book, Travis Elborough does a wonderful job of analysing the history of our masochistic love affair with the seaside... [Elborough] has done his research thoroughly and writes with enormous wit and feeling. His book punches far above its weight in both style and substance.' (Mail on Sunday)

'a charming study of our national beachside frolics' (Independent)

'Technically, Travis Elborough is a cultural historian, although that seems too pompous a phrase for such an amusing and sprite-like writer... Here, he chronicles our love (or otherwise) of our seaside, and his elliptical approach, his wit, and the exuberance of his prose marks this book out from a hundred others on the same subject... timely, bittersweet beach reading.' (Telegraph)

'Elborough proves an erudite and entertaining guide, combining the keen eye of a social historian with the lapidary prose of a fine journalist.' (Financial Times)

'Travis's book sparkles like the sun on a breaking wave...The author has confirmed his ability to find a quirky piece of social history and make it as appealing as a seaside ice-cream on an August day.'

(Camden New Journal)

'Elborough's overview of our lasting love of fish and chips, Brighton rock and paddling is the perfect beach book.' (Marie Claire)

For THE LONG PLAYER GOODBYE:

'He's got a happy knack of stuffing sentences with facts, colour and incident' (Scotland on Sunday 2008-07-13)

'Reassuring air of cultural authority... impressive depth of perspective... admirably persuasive' (Independent on Sunday 2008-07-29)

'Elborough is a charming, funny and frequently fascinating guide'

( Daily Telegraph 2008-08-02)

'Wonderful book... a great thundering roar of nostalgia for the LP record.' (Spectator 2008-08-02)

'Elborough has the passion of a true enthusiast... but he's also an indefatigable researcher, who has somehow seen a clear path through the vast amount of material to write a book that reads easily and well but also wholly coherently. Richly enjoyable.' (Mail on Sunday 2008-08-02)

'Highly entertaining' (Independent 2008-08-20)

'Lovingly researched' (TLS 2008-09-05)

On THE BUS WE LOVED:

'A charming account of the capital's enduring affair with its favourite piece of transport.' (Daily Mail 2008-09-05)

'An undiluted delight - witty and whimsical' (Daily Telegraph 2008-09-05)

'A pocket-sized production as sleek as the vehicle it elegises.' (London Review of Books on THE BUS WE LOVED 2008-09-05)

'He chronicles our love (or otherwise) of our seaside, and his elliptical approach, his wit, and the exuberance of his prose marks this book out from a hundred others on the same subject.'

(Sunday Telegraph 2008-09-05)

Book Description

A fascinating look into how and why the English love to be beside the seaside. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
What fun to follow the social history of England's evolving enjoyment of vacationing at the sea. Travis Elborough puts changing preferences in a historical perspcetive. His wide understanding of architecture, art, music, and social customs makes this an enjoyable and enlightening book. You can smell the salt and feel the ocean breeze. Enjoy!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thought that the writing style weird, and although the subject matter was interesting, the book was limited in the places described, and in my view placed too much emphasis on digressions away from the core subject - the English seaside.
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Format: Paperback
I have just finished this book and want to add my thoughts primarily as - at the time of writing - there are three one star reviews, one two star review, and one three star review. Five average to negative reviews out of a total of nine. I wonder if we've been reading the same book. So with that in mind, here goes...

I found this book fascinating. There's a wealth of historical detail, amusing historical anecdotes, and a witty way with words. I think the book is a great achievement and I will definitely be reading more books by Travis Elborough. Another reviewer remarked how this would make a good TV series. I agree. A mix of the contemporary with archive footage would really help to illustrate the interesting material that Travis Elborough has unearthed. As the other reviews would appear to suggest, this book isn't for everyone, however if you enjoy history and quirky anecdotes that will enrich and inform your understanding of contemporary British life and culture then I heartily recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Saw this book reviewed in a Sunday newspaper and as it was relevant to some study I am doing decided to purchase. The book in my opinion is excellent and very informative and quite funny in places.
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Format: Hardcover
This seemed like the perfect summer book recommendation and as I had to take a train to Glasgow from London - the right length too. The author's basic premise is that as English as the seaside might seem at first glance.. you really don't know how it became such a strange confected mixture of architecture, leisure and culture icon. I certainly didn't. It's part social history but the author;s sort of as motivated by the film/music/literary aspects too - which is fitting as the seaside, per his case anyway, seems to be a place where all these elements came together to form our idea of "the seaside". Really enjoyable - his other books have a similar vibe - detailed one minute, jocular the next but always enlightening. There are a lot of moments where you think it might have also made a nice tv series, to capture the visual madness of seaside architecture in partic. Anyway, for once a summer Supplement recommendation I actually enjoyed! (looking at you with sad eyes "The Slap" - another story however!).
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Format: Paperback
Elborough certainly has a distinctive technique; all baroque swirls, hi-low culture surfing (indicative quote:"think critical theory relayed by the Fast Show's Suits You Sir Tailors"), freeform structures and sly punning. Reminded me a bit of the arch styling and topic-hopping of broadcaster Jonathan Meades but the needless ostentatiousness nearly put me off completely in the opening chapter. I'm glad I persevered though, the stylings settle down to something more palatable and soon the author is briskly walking us though a surprisingly conventional but still completely intriguing story of the role of the coastline in English consciousness. From its origins in spa-town quackery to the patronage of Royal fops, through the coming of the railways, the Holiday Act, odd nautical architecture, the middle-class colonisation of Cornwall (class is strangely near-absent here in an otherwise succinct analysis of holiday tends) , Butlins, the slow fading of the SE resorts, Mods and Rockers (in Clacton!), the revival of the staycation...a surprisingly rich tale and rather well told. The narrative fades a little at the end; Elborough's views on the future of the coast towns would have been interesting, but certainly inspires me to visit a few more of these last resorts.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lured by a favourable review in a quality Saturday newspaper,I was licking my lips in anticipation. Like candyfloss, this book starts with a thin sugary subject and then thanks to the writers excessively florid style is whipped up to appear much more substantial than it actually is. The attempts at humour remind me of the dire end of the pier variety shows. and much is made of reinforcing stereotypes. so that before you are halfway through. you are left feeling uncomfortably queasy and wish you hadn't started it. I devoured the book in one sitting, and unusually for me do not intend to reread it or pass it on. Expect to find my copy in the charity shop near you, winking and smirking with its lurid cover. My advice would be to go for the toffee apples instead, in search of something more substantial.
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Format: Paperback
Just like a sunny day by the sea this book is a tonic! It is a well-written and detailed social history of England by the Sea. The story covers the Regency interest in the edge-lands of Britain (the seaside) for health reasons and as a place of escape for the urban wealthy - particularly the British royalty. With some humour Elborough traces the development and culture of seaside towns (Brighton, Eastbourne, Scarborough and others). Chapters cover the creation of Butlin's holidays camps as a modern alternative to the traditional seaside holiday; the bank holiday Mods and Rockers clashes at Clacton of 1964 - caused by general boredom; the Muslim and Raj inspired style of 'traditional' leisure piers and bandstands, the modernist architecture of Bexhill; and the retirement of Mr. Crowley to a bedsit at Netherwood, Hastings. Themes cover the dark side of seaside towns: drugs, unemployment, drifters and `coasters'. An extensive use of literature, film and music is used to describe places, landscape and cultural production. Overall this book is `ace'.
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