A blog about my photos, my artwork, quotations, ideas, collections, passions, England, authors, handwork of all kinds, rusty bits, buffalo, and architectural detail...for starters. And the occasional rant.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Green Lane to Nowhere

I don’t plan on doing very many book reviews here -  it would be rather foolish since most of the books I read have not only been reviewed to death but often have whole books written about them.  The majority of the books I read are classics.  But I do have a few revered authors writing currently – Terry Pratchett, Bill Bryson, Jasper Fforde – and I do go on what I call ‘reading binges’ when I have a new interest.  Usually this is a historical personage or period.  I have done Henry VIII and the Bloomsbury Group to a fare-thee-well, and now I am in the middle of football/soccer with an emphasis on Liverpool FC.

However, I do have a nice little stack of books by my bedside, most of them non-fiction and none of them classics, that is almost out of control, so I am trying to get it down to where I don’t trip over it when I get up in the middle of the night to visit the bathroom.  Where did all these books come from?  Well, I am often given books by friends who support my love for all things English.  I have a weakness for remaindered books with shiny new dust jackets.  When I order from Powell’s (the best bookstore in the world) I try to order in batches that total $50 to get free shipping.  You can get an awful lot of used paperbacks for $50 so I usually wind up getting a few on spec to fill out my order.

The book I want to talk about came from one of these Powell’s orders, and what caught my eye was the comment that it was a “modern Akenfield”.  Akenfield: Portrait of an English Village by Ronald Blythe was also a filler in a Powell’s order and is a wonderfully readable book on the social history of Suffolk village life which was not only made into a movie but now has its own sequel,  Return to Akenfield by Craig Taylor.

I have just cheerfully broken all book review rules by writing three paragraphs without even naming the book being reviewed….so here it is….The Green Lane to Nowhere: The Life of an English Village by Byron Rogers.

Rogers writes about his life in and around a village in Northamptonshire in a way that is somehow timeless.  He weaves history and mystery, personalities and landscapes in a seamless series of extended anecdotes.  Yes, he is amusing, but it is the kind of humour that is so friendly and warm it makes you smile as you read.  When he reaches back, and sometimes he reaches a very long ways back, he gives you all the relevant information and still manages never to bore you with details.

I find his style brilliant, the kind where you sometimes stop mid-paragraph to admire his choice of words.  This book is so readable I do not hesitate to recommend it to non-anglophiles.  When I grow up, I want to write just like Byron Rogers.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like the sort of gentle, charming read I would enjoy. I am an Anglophile from way back and this kind of book is right up my alley. Thanks for the review. :)