Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Guestbook Spy

Not Quite Lost: Travels without a Sense of Direction by Roz Morris


It isn't often that I read non-fiction, but when I do, I often find travel books to be the most pleasurable way to remain within the realm of reality. However, sometimes these can be filled with long, drawn-out descriptions of pre-planned, extended jaunts, which can become tedious, no matter how well written they might be.
Despite this, for some reason, vicariously visiting places I've never been, or will probably never get to makes me happy, and not the least bit filled with regret. That's why when I received an offer to read this collection of random travel diary entries, I practically jumped at the opportunity. In this little collection, Morris takes us to various unknown spots, mostly within Britain. While this might sound mundane, I can assure you that it is anything but that.

First, Morris has a delightful writing style that I fully enjoyed. Morris fills her prose with warmth, light and gentle breezes, even when the weather is the complete opposite (which was often the case). With this, Morris packs each vignette with charm and wit, including passages of mild self-deprecation that only adds to our amusement (and I'm talking everything from a small giggle to full on guffawing). One thing that made some of the earlier entries most fascinating was how Morris and her husband reached outlying places of interest through public transportation alone. Now I realize that the British are famous for their excellent (if somewhat expensive) railways but many many of these spots are well off the beaten paths and far from rail or even bus lines. Morris' creativity and ingenuity of getting where they wanted to go was just as fun to read about as the destinations themselves, especially as these took place in the days before GPS and smart phones. This fun doesn't end even after they're equipped with their own set of wheels, where you'll equally enjoy some of Morris' encounters with old maps and later, an unusually temperamental Sat-Nav announcer.

Another thing that I found particularly appealing was how, once at a destination, Morris seems to suddenly turn into an undercover, secret agent, who gets the best clues about the places she's visiting from - of all thing - reading entries from previous wayfarers in the guestbooks of their varied places of accommodation (hence the title of this review). While Morris only describes a handful of these forays into the comments left behind by previous visitors, those included are very telling, some revealing mysteries themselves, with others describing similar problems and sights experienced by Morris. It helps, too, that many of the places they stayed the night were quirky in their own rights, including requiring guests to wheelbarrow their luggage to their rooms, and having their suite "decorated" with all sorts of improvised containers to catch the rain from the leaking roof, among other strange phenomena!

The only thing I found just a tiny bit lacking, only became known to me when I'd finished reading the book and read the afterward. There, Morris explains how many of these locations ended up in her fictional works. This piqued my interest so much, I requested Morris write a separate guest blog piece to talk about these locations and their insertions into her novels. If that sounds as interesting to you as it does to me, then PLEASE, watch this space! However, this tiny niggle really isn't enough to have ruined the book for me, or lessened my overall enjoyment. That's why I'm giving this wonderfully lovely book a full five stars out of five. If you're looking for a quick read to cheer you up and virtually take you away from your everyday life (who doesn't need that these days), I absolutely and wholeheartedly recommend this one!



Spark Furnace Books and Amazon Digital Services will release "Not Quite Lost: Travels without a Sense of Direction" by Roz Morris on October 2, 2017. This book is available now for pre-order from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon CA, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books (USA, Canada & Australia), The Book Depository (free worldwide delivery), new or used from Alibris as well as from an IndieBound store near you. I would like to thank Roz Morris (very much) for sending me the ARC of this book in return for an honest review.

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