Wednesday 9 June 2010

Book review : The Reluctant Traveller - Bill Lumley

Bill Lumley openly admits that he's a bit lazy and an even bigger bit cowardly. His prized possession, even as a grown-up, is a note that his mum wrote him, following a road accident as a child, to excuse him from physical education at school - he has laminated it and carries it everywhere with him ! He hates physical effort, anything remotely dangerous (which covers just about anything that moves, in his books !) and anything that will take him too far away from his favourite boozer for too long. One morning, when he realises that the night before, he drunkenly agreed to follow his photographer-friend Gar on a trip to find and climb a lost mountain in Ethiopia, his sense of horror matches the size of his hangover !

The opening chapters had me sniggering. I love books by people like Danny Wallace, Dave Gorman and Alex Horne who set out on ridiculous adventures and self-imposed missions that are totally childish and senseless but also hilarious. Bill's endless attempts to escape to the nearest airport or excuse himself from anything the slightest bit physical were quite funny, especially as he gets into various scrapes involving the locals (and the contents of their toilets ) !

However, after a hundred-or-so pages, his constant whining and complaining started to vaguely annoy me. If you're a parent of a stroppy teenager or tweenager, you'll instantly recognise the incessant eye-rolling, sighing and complaints of "well I never said I wanted to come anyway" from family days out. If he was a contestant on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, he'd be the bratty celeb that everyone loves to hate, constantly voted by the viewers to do the disgusting games involving maggots and rats, just to see him squirm and whinge some more !

Although his "wish I weren't here" attitude adds humour, I couldn't help feeling the book would gain from being written in tandem, with a second more enthusiastic voice to counterbalance Bill's negativity. He simply cannot understand let alone share the excitement and happiness of his fellow climbers and, as he decides to shy away from most of the camping or climbing adventures, I couldn't help but wish one of the more active members of the climbing party had a narrative voice too so that we wouldn't miss out on the beautiful views and adrenalin rush that they were experiencing while Bill hid out in the camp. Although he does give us fascinating glimpses into the people and places he comes across, Bill's narrative doesn't do justice to the rugged beauty and exoticism of Ethiopia, which is a real shame.

star rating : 4/5

Paperback: 348 pages
Publisher: Prospera Publishing (31 Mar 2010)
ISBN-10: 0956122256
ISBN-13: 978-0956122254

1 comment:

  1. It is a very inspirational book, I also enjoyed a lot this reading, the author have a few other good books.


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