©2007 Stuart Maconie; (P)2009 Random House Audiobooks
"Maconie's witty, swift-paced search for the North isn't all Bury's oven-bottomed muffins and Crewe's Full Bellies cafe. What he has to say about the response of Boris Johnson to Liverpudlian Ken Bigley's protracted pre-execution ordeal is just one of many sharp cultural insights." (The Observer)
This is quite simply the best audiobook I have downloaded from Audible to date. It is witty, full of insight, informative and wonderfully read. Stuart Maconie has been a wonderful companion on a number of car journeys recently. It is this sort of book that justifies my subscription to Audible!
Being a bit of a fan of the author (and I didn't bother reading the synopsis), I did expect this book to a mild rant from Mr Maconie about the virtues of the 'north' over the 'south'. However, although there are aspects of this in the book, it is more of akin to a travel journal in a similar vein to Bill Bryson's books (whom the author refers to often). This though is far from a criticism but is a compliment.
Like Bryson, Mr Maconie manages to both praise and sometime complains about people and places in the north without being overtly nasty but with a sense of honesty. He pokes fun at himself and his race but is prepared to speak his mind bluntly when required. Typical northerner really!
I really, really enjoyed this book and the author's narration really enhances his opinions. Being from the midlands, it left me both envying, admiring and sometimes fearing my northern neighbours. And like all good books it just finishes far too soon.
Having called the audible customer service team I heard a clip of this and was hooked. I almost asked them to put me back on hold so I could carry on listening. Maconie is an excellent narrator (not surprising given his DJ credentials) and although it may not be a laugh out loud funny as 'Cider with Roadies' (regrettably not available as an audiobook) I chuckled throughout. Stuart Maconie is Bill Bryson with whippets and this tour round the North is excellent enough for me to forgive him for not reading the unabridged version.
A marvelous listen, really feel I should ring audible monthly just to hear what they have playing whilst awaiting answer,this is how I found this captivating book. Its funny true and something both Northeners and Southeners would appreciate
I tend to listen to my audiobooks in the car and like to be entertained. Anything with a good storyline. Fiction is my preferred bag
Haven't read it in print but Stuart Maconie is really easy to listen to
Travelling north, reviews of the cutural changes. Dispelling of myths and legend along with the musical references
There are so many from the black sausages to Liverpool v Manchester
Laugh out loud moments
This book is great for anyone who really hasn't considered travelling north, it takes you to places that have may have been dismissed from preconceived ideas/media coverage. It is littered with historical references and the train journeys inspire you to leave the car keys at home and 'let the train take the strain'. I learnt loads about this wonderful isle and feel the urge to go to discover my undiscovered north. Inspiring and so well written/read it will be a pleasure to listen to again as there are things I am sure I missed. From Blackpool to Alderly Edge this gives a true flavour of what the north has to offer. Local food recommendations, places to stay with little gems on every page. Read it/Listen to it but most of all enjoy it, I did.
Oh yes, I love Stuart's voice, his sense of humour and the subjects are priceless
Just too many and impossible to choose
His voice, enthusiasm & fun
Oh yes laugh laugh and laugh until I cried
This book sums up the northern roots for me.
I don’t normally write reviews on the books that I listen to here, as I feel that you have to know a subject really well to be a fair critic.
But this is a book about the north, particularly the north west, and the part of the region the author spends most time discussing is the place that I was born and have spent the last 47 years.
I just hope that listeners looking north (or south) realise that they're getting more Disney than Discovery Channel.
I should really have guessed from the promo that this book wasn’t actually aimed at me. By that I mean that a one time sociology lecturer turned BBC music scene reporter’s view of the noble working class in the north is naturally going to be different from somebody who has actually lived that life here – i.e. me.
Don’t get me wrong, it's not all bad. There were some well researched things in the book that I was interested to learn about this area and it could easily have been a very good listen.
What really struck me though (besides the fact that the author obviously spent a lot of time in a thesaurus) is that the old cliché about BBC and Guardian hacks (the author has been both) is absolutely true – they really do live in a different world.
Although being very clear about his student union politics from the outset (for anyone unable to guess that left is right and right is wrong) the author manages to keep that to a minimum for the first half of the book – which is tolerable for someone like myself of the school that politicians (regardless of brand) are mostly in it for their own ends.
By the end of the book though, it descends into some kind of activist poet parody where the noble workers of the north are fighting rabid Tories bent on their destruction whilst Guardian readers are sending food parcels north to striking miners (and no I haven’t made that bit up – it’s in the book).
If this book were abridged to keep the interesting local anecdotes, whilst scrapping the long-winded parts about social injustice, then it would have the makings of a much better book. Trim further to get rid of the name dropping and the how clever am I bits and it really might be getting close to what it aspires to be – a Bill Bryson book.
Unfortunately it isn’t anything close as is.
A fantastic account of the great divide delivered with humour and knowledge inviting one and all to the wonders and gloriousness of living up north
I heard a sample of this book whilst on hold with Audible customer services - and bought it immmediately. Its fantastic - everything Stuart Maconie is - warm, witty,insightful,intelligent,articulate and glorious to listen to. I have laughed out loud to this more times that I can remember. Buy it. Its the single best book I have bought from Audible and I love it.
As a fellow northerner who has settled in the south, I related to many of the authors observations. It was a fantastic "listen" despite the fact that the author did not paint a particularly nice picture of my home town of Oldham!
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