England, says Matthew Engel, is the most complicated place in the world. And, as he travels through each of the historic English counties, he discovers that’s just the start of it. Every county is fascinating, the product of a millennium or more of history: still a unique slice of a nation that has not quite lost its ancient diversity.
He finds the well-dressers of Derbyshire and the pyromaniacs of Sussex; the Hindus and huntsmen of Leicestershire; the goddess-worshippers of Somerset. He tracks down the real Lancashire, hedonistic Essex, and the most mysterious house in Middlesex. In Durham he goes straight from choral evensong to the dog track. As he seeks out the essence of each county – from Yorkshire’s broad acres to the microdot of Rutland – Engel always finds the unexpected .
Engel’s England is a totally original look at a confused country: a guidebook for people who don’t think they need a guidebook. It is always quirky, sometimes poignant and often extremely funny.
Wry, rueful, funny, packed with knowledge, and, like all good reporting, entirely personal and subjective, it is simply the most enjoyable commentary on today's England that could be imagined. * Sunday Times * The book is a triumph and deserves an audience far beyond those infatuated with the clickety-clack of steel wheels * Independent * ... quirky three year quest for the essence of England. If you could bottle his wit, it would taste as sharp, rich and savoury as Worcestershire sauce on a Cornish pasty stuffed to bursting. -- Ian Finlayson * Times * Highly personal and very funny * London Review of Books * [Engel] has managed to do the seemingly impossible and find a new way to write about England... The great pleasure in the book - for Engel as much as the reader - is in his love of the entertaining factual nugget -- Michael Prodger * Financial Times * Engel has the perfect light, humorous touch for the task. * New Statesman * Immensely enjoyable... Engel is a wonderfully wry comic writer. -- Ian Samson * The Guardian *
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