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This non-fiction book was inspired by ‘Mayhew’s Characters’ by Henry Mayhew. Mayhew’s book is a collection of observations on various idiosyncratic people the author encountered or interviewed during his life, and is an important social commentary from the 19th century. It prompted me to compile my own collection of vignettes based on real people I have come across, who for different reasons have made me want to describe them or comment on them in some way. After presenting twenty different individuals in ‘Cathy’s Characters’, I extend my observations to twenty different places which have had some significance to me or whose atmospheres have had an effect on me, in ‘Penman’s Places’. This second section has become a bit of an autobiography, and also a travelogue; maybe you know the same places, or they will remind you of somewhere similar.
SAMPLE CHAPTERS: Click on chapter names below for link to each chapter
The Guernsey Underground Hospital
Review by Rebecca Emin
People and Places is a series of short pieces about twenty people the author has met and twenty places the author has visited.
The book is written in a conversational style so it comes across as autobiographical, and makes for an interesting read.
I really enjoyed the descriptions of people the author has met, they all became vivid characters after reading each description. It also inspires the desire to pay more attention to others as you go about your day. I think we all have those people we won’t ever forget, but it is interesting how much detail the author remembers about each of those she has written about.
The second section about places reads more like a travelogue and if you like reading about different places this will appeal just as much. I enjoyed reading about the places I have also visited, and also some that I would find interesting to see myself.
I started reading People and Places one evening and have read it right through in three days. I found the author’s style of writing and the nature of the book made it a relaxing thing to read and become absorbed in; I had a sense of almost the kind of escapism you feel when watching a film.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys non-fiction, particularly autobiographical and travel writing. Also to anyone who enjoys dipping in to short pieces of writing as this book is a great one to pick up when you have a few minutes reading time.
Review by Julie Wein
Most readers pick up a book so that they can meet new people and visit new places without even having to leave home. “Observations on People and Places” was clearly written with those readers in mind. Follow the author through her journey of some of the most memorable people and moments of her life to date.
The first half of the book tells personal stories about interesting people the author has met and interacted with. Their personalities and stories range from quirky to heartfelt. Quirky characters discussed include one Miss Blag, whose story is easily relatable for everyone who has ever had someone in their life that thinks they are more important than they actually are. The heartfelt personality of a Vicar and the love he had for his bed ridden wife as he watched her slip away from him is a story that touches the heart of any reader with a soul.
The second half of the book focuses on off the beaten path places that have a significant meaning to the author in one way or another. Through her writing style readers can escape from their daily life and travel the world to experience places they may never even have known about otherwise. They get a glimpse into what makes the author tick and what keeps her awake at night.
For a virtual getaway, this book is an excellent choice. Readers will experience a unique journey on each page.