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Pier Review: A Road Trip in Search of the Great British Seaside Paperback – 11 Feb 2016
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'Peerless'(Danny Wallace) --.
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Top Customer Reviews
I was lucky enough to read a preview copy, which I took to the piers of North Wales on a summer holiday. You don't need to resort to this method reading — Jon and Dan will take you there to the faded, the hopeful, the resurrected, the gaudy, the beautiful, the dead — the British Pier.
This book is funny, (b)romantic and warmer than any day at the British seaside I've ever known.
Although I appreciate that many British seaside towns can be dismal affairs, even in the heady sunshine, they are not improved by autumnal drizzle and especially difficult to be upbeat about if they are closed. It is fair to say that many of the piers visited by the trio were, in fact, closed…
This is very much a guy’s book – there is a lot of drinking and humour which veers towards the childish. I do not mean this in a negative way, as it has a feel of many such books written by men that I have enjoyed – such as Danny Baker or Stuart Maconie – but it is simply a fact that this book would be different if written by women. The whole trip would probably have been better organised for one thing, but perhaps then the book would have lost some of its charm.
I did enjoy reading this; although they were somewhat harsh about some piers I recalled fondly from childhood holidays. Perhaps that is one of the problems with this book. I have taken my own children to piers which, although from my point of view look dingy and dispiriting, are viewed with delight by those who are still young enough to be entranced by the flashing lights and gaudy colours, and so – although I enjoyed the trip round the coast – I think that the British seaside still does have a lot to offer. This is a homage in a way, despite the ironic tone, and is good fun, which will resonate with lots of readers.
Living in land-locked Birmingham, authors Jon Bounds and Danny Smith, plus their driver Midge, set out on a two week trip with the intention of visiting every pier in England and Wales. The aim, in part, was to recapture shared Eighties childhood memories, to perhaps do something that hadn't been done before. (It had. By Victoria Wood's brother).
Danny and Jon met up after setting up blogs online and the two thirty somethings quickly realised they had a lot in common (as well as a lot not in common), with a shared working class background that their education had taken them out of. Hence the nostalgia and the strong bond of friendship that keeps this book in great good humour and on an even keel throughout.
It reminded me a lot of one of my top five favourite non-fiction books, Ian Marchant's brilliant The Longest Crawl, where Ian and his photographer friend 'Perry Venus' went from the Scillies to the Shetlands on a month - long pub crawl of some of the iconic pubs of the British Isles, staying with friends, and mostly at good B&Bs.
Our heroes, on a wafer-thin Crowdfunded budget, had two weeks of sleeping in a leaky, collapsing tent (Devon, Kent, amongst others), in a converted coach (Devon, again), in friend's spare rooms (Isle of Wight) with the odd B & B visit (Kimberley House, Whitby, being a highlight). Not to mention Pontin's at Southport. These experiences as as much part of the book as the actual 55 piers.Read more ›
Disclaimer: I've met Danny several times at various events over the years. The same with Midge, though at different events (he probably won't thank me for mentioning that one was a ukelele recital in Moseley), and at a bonfire in 2011 someone compared us to Gandalf (me) and Bilbo (him). Jon, I realised on reading the book, I did meet once, at a - at this point I'm sighing - Brum Bloggers meetup many years ago now, in a shady pub just south of New Street Station. But I digress...
I saw this on a bookshop display competing against several dozen other British travel books, and picked it up with the intention of reading a bit. Thirty pages in, and after a few hard stares from the staff, it became a purchase and I read the remainder through the night. Why a compulsive and - cliche alert - can't-put-it-down read? I've been to most of the piers myself. However, unlike the authors who chained together their visits in one two week burst, mine were spaced over 48 years with most being the damp climax of spectacularly awful childhood holidays (the caravan in Father Ted? We stayed in it in Weymouth for two weeks in 1976. It rained every day). I can therefore verify more than a few of the observations in this book, such as never seeing the alleged tide at Weston-Super-Mare and being enduringly convinced the town is several miles inland and run by a sly tourist board.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very British road trip, encompassing fading Victorian splendour, tatty seaside towns, beer, rain, car breakdowns, the state of the nation, Pontins, edgy pullovers, tent failures,... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Rakie
Pier Review (what a title!) will appeal to anyone who loves Danny Baker, or who has a Stuart Maconie tome on their shelves. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Apollo 11
Picked up this book in an independent bookshop and perused the contents before purchasing. Naturally I looked up the chapter concerning the piers I remember from my childhood,... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Matt Hawkes
Before I started reading it I knew that Pier Review would be a light-hearted read but I thought that interspersed with the humour there would be nuggets of information about two... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Bantam Dave
This wonderful slab of narrative non-fiction charts the journey of two authors who travel around Great Britain's seaside piers. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Helen Cox
Brings back many memories of days by the seaside. A very enjoyable read.Published 9 months ago by John W.
John and Danny visit a number of beaches during a two week dash around Britain, and write amusingly about their experiences. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Blackcatlover
I quite enjoyed reading Pier Review with tales of a two week trip around the piers of England and Wales as well as some of the places in-between. Read morePublished 11 months ago by A Smile and a Wave
For an Autumn or Winter read this can't be beaten. Curl up on the sofa with a blanket and a hot toddy and revel on thoughts of past sunny weeks at the seaside. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Sandford