Thursday, May 5, 2011

Uneasy Rider / Allie Sommerville

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Travel Narrative

Approximate word count: 55-60,000 words

Availability Kindle: YES    Nook: YES    Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon or B&N store


Allie Sommerville lives on an island off the south coast of England. Every trip begins with an expensive ferry ride to the mainland. This is her first book. For more visit the author’s website.


The author, her husband, and sometimes their children traipse around Europe in a mechanically challenged campervan.


I love reading travel narratives. It seems most fit in two categories. The first are those that are upfront about focusing on the difficulties that often come with travel. The other kind take a more positive tone, emphasizing the wonderful people, places, and things the author experienced. In reality, the two types aren’t that different. Both have positive experiences. Both have difficulties to overcome. The main difference is how the difficulties are presented - as adventures or opportunities for humor.

You could guess Uneasy Rider falls in the opportunity for humor category. If you didn’t, the subtitle, Confessions of a Reluctant Traveller, should make it obvious. Each chapter is a story that can stand alone. Each either focuses on a theme or relates a particular incident. For example, one chapter discusses the difficulties finding campgrounds for the night while another focuses on a night spent at a particular hotel in Spain. Although most of the stories come from a handful of long trips, they aren’t chronological. Once you set your expectations accordingly, Uneasy Rider is a pleasurable armchair excursion.

The Sommerville family experiences all the negatives of travel, giving the reader opportunity to laugh at their expense while you learn about the areas they traveled and the cultures they experienced. Although Ms. Sommerville would have us believe she was a reluctant traveler, when I finished the final story I couldn’t help wondering if she would really give up all the positive experiences to have avoided the difficulties. The lady doth protest too much, methinks.


The author, who is from the UK, uses British expressions and spellings. I was surprised the time she mentioned a specific temperature to see it expressed in Fahrenheit. After asking a few UK residents, I found it is common for those who grew up using Fahrenheit temperatures to continue doing so in spite of the change to Celsius as the official standard. This is a positive for us Americans who wouldn’t have a clue what to wear if the temperature is 20 degrees Celsius.

Format/Typo Issues:

I found no significant proofing or typo issues. The book has some footnotes, which are explained at the end of each chapter. It appeared clicking on the footnote would take you to the explanation, however it didn’t. This would have been nice to have, but is far from a serious issue.

Rating: **** Four stars


Vicky said...

I've noticed the last couple of reviews have been of books by British authors, and that the reviewers have made a point of mentioning the British spellings.
Yes, we Brits spell things differently. But I have never once seen a review of a book by an American author where the reviewer feels the need to point out that American spellings are different (I don't just mean on this site, I mean anywhere). If there are a lot of colloquialisms, then fair enough point it out, but I find it strange that the use of British English comes across as so bizarre. This is a genuine question: Are books by British authors edited in the US to comply with US spelling and grammar rules? I ask because I have never found that the use of US spelling has detracted from my enjoyment of a book, so I don't understand why the use of UK spelling is flagged up.

Jessica Bell said...

Sounds like a fun read! :o) In response to Vicky, I think it's flagged here because there are actually some people who don't realise British English different and therefore think they are spelling mistakes. It's happened to me. :-/

BooksAndPals said...

Yes, Vicky. Readers in the US who read paper books by British authors typically get a version edited especially for them. "Harry Potter," for example, if purchased in the US will spell colour without the 'u'. This isn't 100% true, but is the case more often than not.

It is my understanding that in other English speaking countries this is not the case, so Brits, Aussies, Canadians, etc. are used to seeing spelling, grammar, and slang variations based on the country of origin.

Because many US readers are not used to this some view British or Aussie spelling as incorrect. I'm aware of some authors who have received multiple Amazon reviews claiming a book was filled with mispellings due to this.

It is my view that these are not incorrect and, at least for me, can even add to the atmosphere of a book. The reason why we mention these things is twofold. First, is one of education. We point it out to indicate that we're not only aware of this, but don't view it as an error. Second, if someone is so inflexible that this is a problem then they are at least forewarned.

Vicky said...

Thank you both for explaining that! I hadn't realised that people thought they were mistakes!
It sounds like a nice read though, could be a good one to relieve my home sickness :)

hallyally said...

Thanks so much Al for that kind review!
As regards US v English spellings: I love to read US authors with US spellings. I know which accent to read the book in. :-)

Allie Sommerville (author)