Admirers of The Spanish Temper, Marching Spain and his wonderfully evocative books on London, Dublin and New York will need no reminding that V.S. Pritchett is one of the very great travel writers of our time, possessed of an astonishingly accurate eye and a marvellous ability to conjure up the essence of a place, and of the people who live there.
Written for the most part in the 1950s and 1960s, the essays brought together in At Home and Abroad cover South and North America, Spain, Ireland, Portugal, London, Greece, the Pyrenees, Germany, the English countryside and, above all, the Mediterranean.
Victor Sawdon Pritchett (1900-1997) was born over a toyshop in 1900 and, much to his everlasting distaste, was named after Queen Victoria. A writer and critic, his is widely reputed to be one of the best short story writers of all time, with the rare ability to capture the extraordinary strangeness of everyday life.
I had read the print book a while ago, recalling that I'd liked it (and nothing else), so decided to drop an Audible credit to re-read it in audio format.
Structurally, the first part consists of (brief) overviews of various Latin American and European nations, based upon Pritchett's visits. Longer, in-depth portraits of the USA, Canada, and England (with London treated separately); I must admit that I wasn't all that interested in the final hour of the narrative, focusing on the author's impressions of Appalachian America. That part aside, I'm glad I bought the book, which I'd recommend as an insight into those places before the homogeneity of globalization.
Narrator reminded me quite a bit of actor James Mason.
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