Saturday, 27 April 2019

Once Upon A Time In The West ... Country by Tony Hawks


Once Upon A Time In The West ... Country by Tony Hawks
First published in the UK by Hodder And Stoughton in 2015.


How I got this book:
Swapped for on Camping Le Moulin book exchange shelves

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



You can take the man out of the city, but is the countryside ready for him?

Comedian and born and bred townie, Tony Hawks is not afraid of a challenge - or indeed a good bet. He's hitchhiked round Ireland with a fridge and taken on the Moldovan football team at tennis, one by one. Now the time has come for his greatest gamble yet - turning his back on comfortable city life to move to the wilds of the West Country.

With his partner Fran in tow and their first child on the way, he embraces the rituals of village life with often absurd and hilarious results, introducing us to an ensemble of eclectic characters along the way. One minute he's taking part in a calamitous tractor run, the next he's chairing a village meeting, but of course he still finds time for one last solo adventure before fatherhood arrives - cycling coast to coast with a mini pig called Titch.

In the epic battle of man vs countryside, who will win out?

I blogged about Once Upon A Time In The West ... Country on Stephanie Jane on Thursday, choosing it as my next Books From The Backlog read. This reminded me of my enthusiasm in originally choosing Hawks' memoir last year. I hoped his humour would be the perfect foil for our current dismal weather and I also thought it would be a good literary palate cleanser after the intensity of Demian by Hermann Hesse! So I queue jumped it and started reading pretty much straight away. Both things turned out to be true - and the sun is now shining too! Perhaps not as 'hilarious' as other Hawks memoirs I have read, Once Upon A Time is fun nonetheless. It covers three main events: Tony and his partner, Fran, relocating from London to rural Devon; Tony cycling from coast to coast across Devon with an adorable miniature pig; and Fran's pregnancy and giving birth to their child. As such, the book felt bitty - more like three short books than one full memoir, however it is light enough to carry this.

I noticed, at the risk of alienating any Devonian readers I might have, that Tony and Fran appreciated Devon far more than Dave and I did after our move there. Perhaps their not picking Torbay might have had something to do with it! Personally I would quite happily never set foot in the county again, but then I did recognise a number of places Tony visited as part of his epic pig-carrying cycle that we too had enjoyed visiting. If you're looking for a quick, light read that might just inspire you to pump up your bicycle tyres (or move to Devon!) this book could be the perfect choice. There's a strong message about taking time to appreciate our immediate surroundings, and a little preaching from Hawks who appears (then) to be a recent convert to serious environmentalism. There's also lime and coconut cake, and a day out on a vintage tractor - what more could you need!

Etsy Find!
by The Wool Zoo in
New York, USA

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Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Tony Hawks / Biography and memoir / Books from England

10 comments:

  1. Look at you striking your latest book from the backlog off the list swiftly and getting rewarded with sunshine, too.
    Glad it turned out to be a light, upbeat book to sweeten things for your next read, Stephanie!

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    1. I've now got over a fortnight before I need to start worrying about not having read the next BFTB in time ;-)

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  2. Replies
    1. A refreshing sorbet of a book after some heavy ARCs!

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  3. Something we easily forget - appreciate our surroundings. I take that for granted too often. Lovely review.

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    1. It's so easy to do which is frustrating because we get wrapped up in trivialities and miss the beauty

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  4. Yay I'm glad this book was what you hoped it would be! And awww mini pig!

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    1. The mini pig, Titch, is a total scene stealer! She sounds completely adorable

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  5. Would you look at that, the right book can even have the power to change the weather ;) And I am glad that after reading such a 'philosophic' book, you could enjoy the humor and comedy of this one. I love books that can make me smile or laugh :D

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    1. It just goes to show that reading is magical in many ways ;-)

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