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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 29 March 2017
Very good book, funny and honest
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on 25 January 2017
More holiday misery from the excellent Emma Kennedy.
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on 3 June 2011
Like one other reviewer, I absolutely adored the author's first recollection "The Tent, the Bucket, and Me". It was the kind of book that you couldn't read in public or on the train because you would fall into hysterical, dog-barking-like laughter. When I learnt that the author had another book coming out, I pre-ordered it immediately. When it arrived I delightedly tore into it and found that it was...ok. Just ok. Charming in some parts. A few laughs here and there, but nothing like her first book. Perhaps the first book set an expectation of hilarity that was unmet in the second, and perhaps that was my downfall. It's a nice read and an interesting view of the US in the 1980's. She's a thoroughly likeable character who is the walking definition of "Sod's Law". Additionally, she's one of the few authors who can write about Americans and not come across as unkind, no matter how backwards some of the people she came across were. But the book, once finished, has not left much of an impression on me. I'm hoping her next book does the trick, for I will continue to buy her books in hopes of recreating The Great Laugh of her "Bucket" book.
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The time is 1989. Very few people have mobile phones, the internet is in its infancy and British graduates flock to America for working holidays. I think Camp America and BUNAC's Work America style programs have gone a bit out of fashion now but I do remember them being very popular. Emma and her best friend Dee go for the Work America option, convinced they will make a fortune.

Of course, they struggle to find jobs and when they do they're not well paid. Having a contact in San Francisco, they'd decided to base themselves there however their return flight leaves from New York. Emma and Dee must somehow get across the country on a barely there budget. Not only that, but Emma seems to have inherited the holiday bad luck gene from her parents.

Not as funny as The Tent, the Bucket and Me but then I don't have any experience of back-packing to compare this to. Maybe you'll read it and identify with lots of their struggles. One thing that does ring true, the more you try and do things on the cheap, the more likely things are to go wrong... When they do go wrong, they appear ten times worse because you have no money to get yourself out of it!

Emma's books document a slice in time that we won't see again. Just like her family's camping experiences, working and travelling abroad has changed so much. I don't think anyone would be naive enough to set out without back-up funds and there is the constant communication we have in the internet to help us out.
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on 14 August 2011
The Tent, the Bucket and Me is, myself being part Welsh too, one of my fave books of all time. I think it would make a great film with someone like Rob Bryden playing the part of Emmas dad. Everyone I lent it to thought it was hillarious. I have also read her book How to Bring Up Your Parents (if you already have a parent or are thinking of getting one....) which was also very funny and original.

Therefore I was so looking forward to reading this, but it was not so good. Not as believable as the previous books, and in parts silly and cringe makingly embarrassing, I managed to read it but was not impressed. Shame.
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on 22 August 2012
I downloaded the first chapter on my Kindle and thought it seemed promising, so gave it a try. But by the end of the second chapter I was struggling and it didn't get any better. It's impossible to tell which were Emma's real experiences and which she elaborates in the hope of a laugh, as every one of her stories seems completely improbable and not particularly funny. And the stories of her parent's travels through Europe are equally as puzzling - they got locked in a deserted hotel - how, why? I kept waiting for the punch line to kick in but it never did. She just seems to amble from one disaster to another and truth be told, I found myself getting rather depressed by the time I was half way through and just willing the bus to get to New York so the whole sorry tale would end.

If Emma was trying to turn herself into the dizzy but likeable heroin who finds herself unintentionally falling into one hilarious scrape after another then she's failed. In fact, I found her rather irritating and couldn't understand how a 22 year old Oxford graduate could be so completely unworldly and at times downright stupid. This was set in 1989 not 1979, who had not heard of a microwave? And if she didn't know how to use one, surely she might have asked the supposedly slick and worldly wise Dee for some advice? Dee was even more irritating, in that she was supposed to be the smart one, yet she just seems to follow Emma like a lamb to the slaughter into these ridiculous situations.

Unfortunately this is my first Emma Kennedy book and from reading the reviews I clearly should have read The Tent, The Bucket and Me first. This book helped pass the time on my tube journey to and from work but I was certainly never in any danger of belly laughing on the train.
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on 5 May 2011
I am appalled that people are leaving one star reviews without having read the book. You don't give a book one star just because Kindle, who set the price NOT the author, have overpriced the product.

I have read the book and it's brilliant. Warm, filled with hilarious anecdotes, thrills and spills - a perfect follow up to The Tent the Bucket and Me. But most impressively, the book is a wonderful exploration of a great friendship. It made me laugh (it even made me well up in places). An essential read for anyone who understands what it's like to not know what you're going to do with your life and who has ever loved a friend. So that's everyone.
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on 27 August 2011
I spent two summers trecking around American in the late 80s and thought this book would have some resonance with me and touch a few heartstrings in relation to the amazing, life-changing experience that it was.

Instead I read a catalogue of stupid, inane and pointless anecdotes which seemed to revolve around the supposed incompetence and stupidity of an 18 year old girl who is intelligent enough to get in to Oxford University, but not to know which bus to get on, or how to look after her money.

The truth is that if "Emma" and "Dee" had tried to travel around America like this in the 80s, they would have been eaten alive, literally and metaphorically. A certain amount of care and a lot of sense was required to even make it possible in the first place. It certainly wasn't a safe place to be this stupid.

And people like "Dee", who is portrayed as an hilarious, sensible, beautiful, wise-cracking social genius do not and did not have friends like "Emma". It just doesn't ring true in any way. Dee would have just left Emma at the first busstop. In fact, Dee would never have been friends with Emma at all. If this was a friendship in reality, I can only think that the author Emma must have had some serious self-hating psychological issues which led her (and obviously still lead her) to write about a friendship as if it was some sort of public school girl-crush on the pretty one who everyone likes.

The attempt to mix fact and fiction at the odd moment is cringeworthy. "Oh there's a tampon hanging from my crotch, but 20 years later lots of people died here. Isn't that meaningful." Absolutely dreadful. The writer didn't seem to know what she we writing: someone else has said that if this had been clearly fiction, it might have worked. I can't see how this moronic set of clearly faked and impossible "anecdotes" could ever have made a useful book.

I had hoped for a warm, inspiring and amusing trip across America, uncovering some of the idiosyncrasies of the 1980s as a decade, America as a country ill-at-ease and in economic and social turmoil at the time, and a real relationship between two friends literally having the time of their life, but all I got was a mush of stupid.
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on 15 August 2012
As with most people, "Bucket" soon established itself upon my list of favourites, great for dipping in an out of and guaranteed to lift your mood (in spite of all the calamities). I somehow missed seeing any previews for I Left My Tent In San Francisco, so I was surprised to see it by chance in the local bookshop - of course I had to buy it.
I wasn't expecting it to be a mere cash-in on the previous book, so wasn't at all disappointed that it wasn't hell-bent on aiming for belly-laughs all the way through. I took it with me to read while I was fishing - it was going to be too hot and sunny to expect much success, so it really an excuse just to sit by the waterside.
I was captivated from the start. Anyone who has experienced a Freshers' Week at college will smile when remembering the comedy of manners that surrounds budding relationships. This is only a brief interlude, as before too long, you find yourself catapulted into the story of Emma and Dee's plan to work their through a sight-seeing tour across America - a tale of more innocent times perhaps, as their plan might now seem foolishly reckless.
As you might now expect of Emma, things in life rarely run according to plan. You may find yourself wincing at the naivety of these two young girls travelling alone; there are potentially dangerous moments, but also touching stories of kindness along the way (even one of the most unexpectedly erotic interludes ever written). Emma writes in an amusing and entertaining way that keeps you captivated throughout. You probably won't find yourself laughing aloud, but it is a book that you will warm to and want to share. I didn't manage to finish it during the day out, so found myself sitting up into the early hours of the morning to finish it. I simply had to know how it came to an end.
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on 9 June 2011
I was disappointed and couldn't relate to the characters. I did finish the book but found it hard work and I am sure that within a week or two I will have forgotten what the book was about.
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