Top critical review
In the Land of Awful
5 February 2015
I wanted so much to like this book given that there don't seem to be many books about Australia that aren't historical accounts or travel guides, but I absolutely hated it.
The book is more about Jacobsen than Australia, which wouldn't be so bad if he didn't come across as a thoroughly unlikeable, pretentious snob. He may well be a dexterous writer but, in my view at least, he spent far too much time on things that are of very little actual interest. Who cares how many wealthy people he managed to chat with in Perth? And why would he spend a significant chunk of his life savings on travelling across the country only to dismiss everything with the same patronising sneer? More fool him. I read this book in preparation for my first trip to Oz and it was almost depressing enough to make we wish I wasn't going. Well, until I realised that by going to Australia I'd actually be physically as far away as is actually possible from Jacobsen and his turgid book - that thought cheered me up a bit.
I stuck with it for over 250 pages before I finally lost the will to live and gave up.
If you want a book to inspire you to visit Australia then I'd recommend Bill Bryson's Down Under instead, because he's a passionate, funny, fluid writer - the exact opposite of Jacobsen.