The Kingdom by the Sea : A Journey Around the Coast of Great Britain, Paperback

The Kingdom by the Sea : A Journey Around the Coast of Great Britain Paperback

3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Award winning writer Paul Theroux embarks on a journey that, though closer to home than most of his expeditions, uncovers some surprising truths about Britain and the British people in the '80s in "The Kingdom by the Sea: A Journey Around the Coast of Great Britain".

Paul Theroux's round-Britain travelogue is funny, perceptive and 'best avoided by patriots with high blood pressure...' After eleven years living as an American in London, Paul Theroux set out to travel clockwise round the coast and find out what Britain and the British are really like.

It was 1982, the summer of the Falklands War, the ideal time, he found, to surprise the British into talking about themselves.

The result makes superbly vivid and engaging reading. "A sharp and funny descriptive writer. One of his golden talents, perhaps because he is American and therefore classless in British eyes, is the ability to chat up and get on with all sorts and conditions of British...Theroux is a good companion". ("The Times"). "Filled with history, insights, landscape, epiphanies, meditations, celebrations and laments". ("The New York Times"). "Few of us have seen the entirety of the coast and I for one am grateful to Mr Theroux for making my journey unnecessary.

He describes it all brilliantly and honestly". (Anthony Burgess, "Observer"). American travel writer Paul Theroux is known for the rich descriptions of people and places that is often streaked with his distinctive sense of irony; his other non-fiction titles, "Riding the Iron Rooster", "The Happy Isles of Oceania", "Sunrise with Seamonsters", "The Tao of Travel", "Ghost Train to the Eastern Star", "The Old Patagonian Express", "The Great Railway Bazaar", "Dark Star Safari", "Fresh-air Fiend", "Sir Vidia's Shadow", "The Pillars of Hercules", and his novels and collections of short stories, including the James Tait Black Memorial Prize winner "The Mosquito Coast" are available from Penguin.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368 pages, maps
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Travel writing
  • ISBN: 9780140071818



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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

Whereas I loved "Riding the Iron Rooster," in this book I only heard Theroux going around the British coast, whingeing about this and that.

Review by

Traveling along the whole coast of the United Kingdom sounds like a daunting task. The joy of traveling in Great Britain is that one can reach any place reasonably fast by road or train by its hub and spoke system centered on London. Relying on the failing tangential railroads and doing it at the nadir of "Britain isn't working" and the Falkland War is a guarantee for misery. Arriving in Bristol after having traveled across the South of England, Theroux' enthusiasm is mostly spent. A cantankerous, middle-aged man, living out of his rucksack, discovers the tragedies of a salesman to nowhere.Theroux spends an inordinate amount of time and space complaining about his lodgings and the food (which given the national penchant of not-complaining can be awful indeed). Instead of enjoying the sights, going to theaters, museums and exhibitions, Theroux chats with the staff and owners of the miserable establishments as well as the elderly, the unemployed and the unemployable he happens to meet while life passes him by. It feels a bit like the movie Sideways without stopping by the wineries. The strange portioning of the chapters reflects some of Theroux' frustration: Ten chapters from London to Brighton, three for Wales, three for Northern Ireland, four for Scotland (where he nearly meets the Queen), four for Northern England and only two for the West coast. At the end, he just wants to return home, which is not only an English but a universal feeling. I hope he is less grumpy in his travel across China.

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