13 Jun 2017


SOURCE: Received from a friend (thanks Jim).


  • What's In A Name? 2017: To The Holy Shrines for the 'Book With A Building In The Title' category, Can-Cans, Cats & Cities Of Ash the 'Book In Which At Least Two Words Share The Same First Letter' category
  • Mountain TBR Reading Challenge 2017: Eleven and twelve books of 24.

Today I bring you two books  from the Penguin Books Great Journeys series of which there are twenty, all of them extracts from longer works. Today I bring you the following books, the synopsis of which can be found by clicking on the relevant book title...


FIRST SENTENCE {TO ALEXANDRIA}: On the evening of April 3, 1853, I  left London for Southampton.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {PAGE 44}: The men swaggered, the women minced their steps, rolled their eyes, and were eternally arranging, and coquetting with their head-veils. The little boys strutting about foully abused any one of their number who might have a richer suit than his neighbour. And the little girls ogled every one in the ecstasy of conceit, and glanced contemptuously at other girls their rivals.

MY THOUGHTS: Using a sample of extracts from Personal Narrative Of A Pilgrimage To Al-Madinah And Mecca by Richard Burton (no, not that Richard Burton, the Victorian explorer, spy and sexologist Sir Richard Francis Burton), To The Holy Shrines chronicles the author's time in Egypt in which he dons the robe of a Muslim pilgrim. 

An OK read but, whether it was the style of writing (imagine a wordy Boy's Own prose) OR that I was expecting more of an adventure involving a journey to the Holy Shrines (instead of which I got more of an account of the buffoonish behaviour of the characters the author encountered) OR that it was merely an extract from a much longer book, the ending of this, the shorter version, rather uninspiring, alas, one that didn't particularly appeal to my taste. 

Read on-line here.

Now this is more like it, I did enjoy ...


FIRST SENTENCE {THE AZORES}: Taking it 'by and large', as the sailors say, we had a pleasant ten days' run from New York to the Azores islands - not a fast run, for the distance is only twenty-four hundred miles - but a right pleasant one, in the main.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {PAGE 21}: Tangier has been mentioned in history for three thousand years. And it was a town, though a queer one, when Hercules, clad in his lion-skin, landed here, four thousand years ago. In these streets he met Anitus, the king of the country, and brained him with his club, which was the fashion among gentleman in those days. 

MY THOUGHTS:  Through 1850's Azores, Morocco, France, Italy and Greece. The author's estimation of the 'American abroad' fascinating. 

Like other books in the series this is less travelogue and more, well, an observation of the tourist abroad. However, unlike other books in the series, witty, his writing simple and yet dramatic, I actually found myself rather liking this collection of anecdotes, a collection of excerpts from the author's first major work, The Innocents Abroad.

Read a copy on-line here.


Barbara Fisher said...

Hi Tracy, I’ve often thought I ‘should’ read The innocents abroad, but perhaps this short extract would be a good place to start. To the holy shrines doesn't appeal to me and as my TBR pile is growing ever higher, I won’t add this one.
I hope you are keeping well and enjoying the sunshine.

Kelly said...

I'm not sure either of these particularly appeal to me, but the second one sounds better, based on your reviews. Like Barbara, my TBR pile is such that I don''t need to be adding books I'm not totally gung-ho for.

Brian Joseph said...

I have been meaning to read Richard Burton'd narrative of his pilgrimage to The Holy sites for years now. I think that my interest was first sparked by an old National Geographic article that I read as child. I can imagine that the writing would be a bit ponderous however. Perhaps it is better to read the excepted version :)

kimbacaffeinate said...

CAN-CANS, CATS & CITIES OF ASH sounds intriguing. Your first review made me laugh, and I dare say I would have expected exactly what you did going in.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your honest
and excellent review.
Perhaps I will add Mark
Twain's book to my list.

Melliane said...

hmm maybe a bit more the second than the first one

Mary (Bookfan) said...

Probably not one for me but I appreciate your fair assessment.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I do like the sound of the second book. I have a feeling the first wouldn't be for me either.

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

I have to admit that I'm not much of a short story or extract reader, it's either the whole book or nothing for me.

I rather think that both of these books would come into the 'nothing' category for me, although I did still enjoy the memorable lines you featured from 'To The Holy Shrines'. I can so relate to the bitchiness of a group of girls together and these days the age group is getting younger!

Thanks for sharing and at least these two ticked the boxes in a few of your outstanding categories :)