Book Reviews

Birmingham Evening Mail (England), July 15, 2000 | Go to article overview

Book Reviews


A Reader's Guide to Writers' Britain

by Sally Varlow (Prion, pounds 15)

THERE are certain writers who are interlinked with the landscape they wrote from. Thomas Hardy, Walter Scott, D H Lawrence and the Bronte sisters were greatly influenced by the countryside or industrial heritage in which they grew up and are commemorated there.

But many more writers have also found inspiration from their surroundings and very often visiting their home towns gives a greater insight into the powers that drove them. Sally Varlow succeeds in helping anyone travelling round the UK to achieve that. With pictures, anecdotes, mini histories and excerpts from literature she brings places alive as the homes of most of our best loved writers.

Britain's rich literary heritage is highlighted in this book which is organised around regions. So locally we find details of Samuel Johnson's views on Lichfield, Arnold Bennett's links to the pottery towns, George Eliot's estrangement from friends and family in Coventry and Nuneaton, Jerome K Jerome's birthplace at Walsall and JRR Tolkien's childhood fascination with Sarehole Mill. A book for anyone in love with literature or UK travel.

DP

Baby's Play and Learn Pack by

Dr Miriam Stoppard (Dorling

Kindersley, pounds 19.99)

THIS is not so much a book as a briefcase-sized package full of extras for your baby - from a foam brick to a music tape, press out mobile, music rattle, double-sided wall frieze, mirror and 24 activity cards. Parents also get a book, presented with Dorling Kindersley's usual clarity, which tells you month by month exactly what is happening in terms of your baby's development.

There's the temptation to believe that, in the wrong hands, such a formula could encourage pushy parents to try to start 'hot-housing' their children even sooner. For other parents, the aim is to help you to enjoy each mini-stage of your baby's rapid development before it's been and gone.

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