Wednesday 16 January 2019

Book review : Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw: Excursions In The Great Weird North - Will Ferguson

Just before Christmas, I promised myself that I wouldn't buy any more books, as I had more than enough of them overflowing from the shelves of my bookcase, and lots more arriving for review. Well, that ended up being the first of my New Year's Resolutions to be broken, as when I headed into town on January 2nd, they had a selection of books on sale in WH Smith for £1. Despite my best intentions, I just couldn't walk past them !

Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw: Excursions In The Great Weird North is, as its name suggests, a collection of (for want of a better word) essays based on the travels of Will Ferguson. Will is Canadian and his travels take place over a period of three years, with a quick jaunt or a press trip here or there, often accompanied by some member of his family : his young son, his Japanese wife, one of his brothers, ... This insight into his family is just as interesting as his travels and you get a real sense of who Will really is, as he interacts with his various family members and recounts tales of his youth.

Canada is an incredibly vast and diverse country, something which is quite hard for a European to really understand, and the writing reveals many different areas to us. From the westernmost point in Vancouver Island to the delights (and accent) of Newfoundland, right across in the east, each chapter reveals a new idea of what it means to be Canadian. From the earliest colonial settlers starting up a new town to the Inuit tribes and even the Vikings, Will Ferguson gives a great rundown of Canadian history in a very readable way, but there are other episodes - particularly the fascinating trip to see polar bears in Churchill - where it is all entirely focused on the here and now. Whatever you are looking for, you're bound to find it somewhere in Canada - and the book gives us a great overview of some of the quirkiest places.

The style of writing is irreverent and humorous, and often made me think of Bill Bryson. Whether reading the chapter on Uncle Tom's Cabin or the earliest settlers and their fur trading stations, a ship stranded on the prairies or a peaceful canoe trip with his four-year-old son, I couldn't help but be enchanted by each very different tale of life in Canada. I already fancied exploring Canada one day, but this book has given me an even greater desire to add another stamp to my passport !

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £8.99

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main edition (27 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841956902
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841956909


  1. I wouldn't be able to resist a book sale

  2. Oooh, I would have bought this for a £1, too! Sounds fascinating. So pleased to read the review.

  3. Sounds a good book

  4. This book discussed a lot of things mainly things that happened in Canada but everything was narrated from a European point of view. After reading this review, I bought this book using Lazada Coupons to get a discount. Thanks for sharing your experience.


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