Thursday, 1 September 2011

Thursday Thoughts: Review of Walk The Lines by Mark Mason

I was sent this book by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review, by the way.

Mark Mason, lover of all things London, sets himself a mission. To walk the length of EVERY one of the capital’s eleven Underground lines – but to do so overground. Travelling 403 miles, learning more facts about London than you could ever imagine, and meeting a variety of people – including the Krays’ biographer – and find out that the legendary Circle Line pub crawl (drinks in 27 pubs, one for each station) may not be as much fun as it’s cracked up to be.

This is one of those books that will, if you’re anything like me, take a ridiculous amount of time to read, because it conjures up so many visions of London with Mason’s vivid descriptions of the city that I spent half my time in pleasant daydreams of doing the same thing as the author. Sadly – or perhaps thankfully – I don’t have the time, or the energy, to walk over four hundred miles myself, but I certainly felt as though I was accompanying him on his journey as he made his way to hundreds of stations. It’s also a wonderful book to dip into and read a line at a time, prolonging the enjoyment.

Mason’s style is an extremely easy one to read and he raises a smile not just with his descriptions of the areas he walks through and their history, but also with the people who accompany him on occasions – especially his friend Richard, far keener than the author to plan things out to the nth degree. A massive amount of footnotes adds to the information without breaking up the main narrative, providing plenty of extra facts – did you know how big the Square Mile is now? I’ll give you a clue, it’s not exactly a square mile anymore – but to find out the actual area, you’ll need to buy the book. Or I suppose you could look it up on the internet; but then you’d miss out on dozens, if not hundreds, of similar bits of trivia. (Seriously, you can’t tell me you don’t want to know why City police call the Met the Bantams, can you?)

High recommendation, particularly to London lovers like myself.

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