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.
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.