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The Kingdom by the Sea: A Journey Around the Coast of Great Britain Paperback – Bargain Price, June 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

PAUL THEROUX is the author of many highly acclaimed books. His novels include A Dead Hand and The Mosquito Coast, and his renowned travel books include Ghost Train to the Eastern Star and Dark Star Safari. He lives in Hawaii and on Cape Cod.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (June 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618658955
  • ASIN: B003IWYL2A
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,996,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Theroux's highly acclaimed novels include Blinding Light, Hotel Honolulu, My Other Life, Kowloon Tong, and The Mosquito Coast. His renowned travel books include Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, Dark Star Safari, Riding the Iron Rooster, The Great Railway Bazaar, The Old Patagonian Express, and The Happy Isles of Oceania. He lives in Hawaii and on Cape Cod.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Edelman TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 25, 2003
Format: Audio Cassette
Paul Theroux's travel book soften being out strong opinions in readers- particulrly those who have visited a place he has written about. Many of the most critical seem to focus on a few details and miss the overall tenor of the piece.
As Theroux makes quite clear in this book, he loves the English seacoast, and he met many warm people along the way. At the same time, he unflinchingly relates every detail of his experience, every rude comment, every unpleasant encounter. As he notes, most travel writing is boring; we went to Egypt, we saw the pyramids, et cetera. What makes for interesting reading is the minutia, the detail that makes my trip different from your trip. My England is nothing like Theroux's, but then, I wasn't there for 17 years, I didn't tour the coast, and I am not Paul Theroux.
I recently re-read "Kingdom", while thinking about a bicycle tracing some of the ground covered by Theroux, and what struck me was how much there was that Theroux truely liked about his trip, the things he saw, and the people he met. The more unpleasant encounters only served to make the pleasant ones more so.
"Kingdom By The Sea" is for me, at least, a thouroughly enjoyable tour, a look into the British and into Theroux, and as always, a terrific piece of writing by one of the modern masters.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Robert on September 4, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book took me a long time to read. I'm use to Mr. Theroux's style after reading The Old Patagonian Express and Riding the Iron Rooster and for full disclosure I'm English; although I haven't lived there for 20 years. It was PT's description of southern England that I struggled with, it just wasn't very interesting or insightful. He just seem to plod from one place to another with no insight or interesting encounters. Places I know from my childhood he seem to pass by, more concerned with how he was going to get to the next town or escape the next bad B&B he was staying at. The book only began to get interesting when he entered Wales and became a good read when in Ireland. Here the writing took you on a journey mingling the physical scenery with the cultural landscape of the past and present and became more than a 'how do I get to lower nowhere now the branch railway has closed down.' The book improves as PT travels through Scotland and returns through NE England. As some reviewers have pointed out the book was written in an era when many coastal towns were going into a steep decline as people began to go on 'holiday' to Spain and other cheap resorts, but this trend has mostly continued and many have never recovered and exist in a similar state today; Scarbrough comes to mind. Like most of PT books I struggle with his personality during the book, but appreciate the journey once its over; however compared to his other books I've read this would be down my list of recommended reads.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Mambo on June 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
I've read several of PT's travel books and have always enjoyed them, despite what could be called a prickly and hypercritical attitude on the part of the writer. Yes, he does find a lot of negatives, but he also finds positives, and he is a very, very good writer. He does give the impression that he would be difficult to know, and that he would not suffer fools. I spent one summer--1977, QE2's Silver Anniversary as ruler--in GB in my early twenties, bicycling around Scotland, Wales, and all of England. Unlike Theroux, I took in plenty of castles, cathedrals, stately homes and other 'touristy' places (but I avoided Stonehenge, Shakespeare's Stratford and the Crown Jewels, three of the biggest draws). I love England and Scotland and I try to read every travel book I can on those countries.
I knew what PT was like going in and so his seemingly disdainful attitude toward so many people and places did not put me off. In general I did find the English to be very aloof, but if you did speak to them they were quite friendly and helpful. The Scots were more open and approachable, I found. The country went through the Thatcher years and things got a lot tougher for the majority of ordinary citizens who did not have the benefit of upper-class educations and well-paying jobs. The same thing is happening here: more wealth concentrated into the hands of fewer people. There isn't a lot to look forward to for many people, so can you blame them for being pessimistic? Still, it is dangerous to make generalizations about an entire nation and its people. Whatever country you visit, you will find some jerks as well as some genuinely nice people, and every type in between.
Why go to Great Britain, or read about it? So much history, so many places to see, people to meet, and things to do, packed into such a small space. From Land's End in the SW to John O'Groats in the NE, it's only 900 miles. A fantastic and fun place where you are guaranteed to be entertained and enlightened.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By I. Hollingworth on November 25, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have just re-read this book after several years.It still holds up a mirror to my country and by extension myself. I suspect the UK hasn't changed all that much since it was written. It has educated me about different aspects of the land where I was born, It helps me reflect on my roots and my future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By BT Invictus on November 8, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In The Kingdom by the Sea, Theroux sets out to explore, mostly by foot, the coastline of perhaps the most well-traveled country on earth, Great Britain--a place where "nothing was unknown...just variously interpreted" (77). An American who spent eleven years living in London and speaks with a muted British accent himself, Theroux is in a unique position to write a UK travel memoir; he's simultaneously an insider and an outsider, both familiar with the culture and self-consciously Other. And it's from this interesting vantage point that he embarks on his quest to discover "what [this] kingdom is really like" (6).

Theroux sets the stage for readers by alluding throughout The Kingdom by the Sea, written in 1982, to the current events of the day, just as he does in his other travel memoirs. The Falklands War, the birth of Prince William, railroad strikes, the rise and fall of the Yorkshire killer (a man whom Theroux is humorously mistaken to be on more than one occasion), "the troubles" in Northern Ireland--these and other headlines comprise the colorful backdrop to his narrative, which is usually more about people than places. Fans of Theroux will find other traits characteristic of his writing here, too: The inside joke that strategically perforates the entire book, always appearing at the right time. In The Kingdom by the Sea he introduces the Inside Joke with this line: "It was one of my small talents to be able to tell a person's name by looking at him" (9) and indeed overwhelmingly proves his knack for conjuring up very funny, very British names and pinning them to the right people--"The Touchmores," "Vivian Greenup," "R.L. Justice," "Mrs. Mumby," "Judith Memery," "Roger Cockpole...
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