cat63 (cat63) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

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Book 21 for 2010

The Amber Trail by Natascha Scott-Stokes. 195 pages

I started reading this aloud to Rob, but he got bored with it after a few chapters. I elected to continue reading it on my own. Given that it's taken me nearly three months to finish it, I think it's fairly obvious which one of us was the more sensible!

It's not that it's a badly written book. I've read far worse things in that respect, both in terms of technique and author's voice. What irritated me deeply about this book was that I felt the author had pulled a massive bait-and-switch on her readers.

The book is advertised as an attempt to trace, by bicycle, the route taken by the ancient amber traders from the Baltic to the Aegean, and indeed that's how it begins. What wasn't evident at the beginning is that the author and her husband attempted this journey during the war in the former Yugoslavia and almost inevitably the book is derailed into an examination of the geopolitical history of the region.

Now, this too is a perfectly worthy and interesting subject. But. It's not the one I signed up for, and there's no hint in the book's blurb that this is actually what it's about.

I can understand the author having been blindsided on the trip itself, and finding that her focus had shifted -  that's fair enough and could happen to anybody. What's not on though, is that the book's blurb gives no hint of this. Probably the publisher's fault rather than the author's but still deceptive and annoying.

This one's going back to Bookmooch, but with a copy of this review attached so that the next person to read it isn't fooled as I was.
Tags: travel writing

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