Book Review: Through England on a Side-Saddle by Celia Fiennes


Through England on a Side-Saddle
Celia Fiennes

This is the fifth of 20 volumes of the Penguin English Journeys series. I plan to read all 20 in the month of April.

In many ways this book is much like William Cobbett’s From Dover to the Wen. And if you remember, I wasn’t a huge fan of Cobbett’s book. It was good, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Well this one is even less my cup of tea. It is remarkable in the fact that a woman travelled to every part of England from 1685 to 1703 and recorded what she found in a journal. Unfortunately what she recorded seems more like a laundry list of details than anything that has any kind of interesting narrative arc. Unlike the Cobbett book, I didn’t given this one 50 pages before abandoning it. No doubt the much earlier date of Fiennes’ book and its concomitant use of antiquated language didn’t help me in the likability category.

Each of the English Journey books has a quote from the text highlighted on the cover. The quote on the cover of Through England on a Side-Saddle kind of sums up the tedious nature of the journal. One would assume the cover quote is one of the more compelling lines from the text. So based on this thrilling quote, you tell me if you want to know more.

A great storme of haile and raine met me, and drove fiercely on me but the wind soone dry’d my dust coate…

See what I mean?

Next up: Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard and other poems

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Through England on a Side-Saddle by Celia Fiennes

  1. verity April 19, 2010 / 7:39 am

    Oh dear, sorry that this one was disappointing! I thought it looked interesting being from a female perspective. Better luck with the next one.


  2. Hannah Stoneham April 19, 2010 / 1:30 pm

    Oh dear that's a shame. there is nothing worse than a sea of details and nothing to tie them together!

    Looking forward to reading about the next one



  3. Elise April 19, 2010 / 9:11 pm

    How disappointing that you didn't like it… I love the title! However I think you're right about the cover quote, if that is one of the best perhaps this is a book to avoid.


  4. Thomas at My Porch April 20, 2010 / 12:28 am

    Verity: Truth be told there might be a gem from the female perspective, but I didn't read enough of it to confirm or refute that.

    Hannah: The odd thing is I like lists, but this string of details wasn't as compelling.

    Elise: My obssessive nature compelled me to buy the whole set and is now compelling me to at least try and read all of them (in order).


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