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Annoying at first but it grew on me
on 30 May 2001
Reading the book you are very much in the sole company of the writer. Unfortunately, for the first half of the journey I found him less than rewarding company. He namedrops the Royal Geographical Society in reverent tones. He bangs on about his wife and parents in a manner which leaves one feeling a spectator to Crane trying to prove himself to them. And he takes such joy in being wilfully ill-equipped (cotton trousers, no waterproofs and an umbrella, for god's sake!) that before long I was wishing for him to suffer. His presentations of the history of the places he comes across are excellent but his religious and Romantic attitudes are presented as fact in a way only such well-heeled 'adventurers' can find natural. Having said all that, I found I warmed to him and the book as I read on. Apart from his descriptions of eastern Europe being new and strange to me in comparison to Spain, the Alps etc, it seemed that the experience of the journey was actually changing the author into - for me at least - a more likeable narrator. I would be interested to discover how it was written and to what extent the finished tale reflects the author's changing attitudes through the journey.