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My Love Affair with England: A Traveler's Memoir (1992)

de Susan Allen Toth

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330979,805 (3.74)16
Journalist and memoirist Susan Allen Toth brings her special England vivdly to life as she recalls her many trips there over the years, where she explored the countryside, traveled both second-class and in luxury, theatre-hopped, hunted for ghosts, and honeymooned. Humorous, bittersweet, and wonderfully eccentric, this is a delightful remembrance to be savored by those who love to travel or just dream of it. "I love MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH ENGLAND. It is written clearly and with a understanding that far supasses any feeling of condescension or superiority or general quaintness among the natives, all of which I detect in books about other countries." M.F.K. Fisher… (mais)
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Journal entry regarding this book from nine years ago: " I enjoyed this book so much that I'm going to get a copy for my permanent collection. For some reason, I seem to have developed somewhat of an annoyance/dislike/aversion to England in the last few years but this book has really changed my mind. I want to have a copy for myself to use as a guide and plan a trip of my own someday.

Since the book was written 18 years ago, I am interested in finding out what Ms. Toth and her husband are up to now. I think it's wonderful that she found such a loving life partner and travelling buddy in her second husband, James."

Today's journal entry:

It's funny how one's mind can change about a book over time. The first time I read this, I was completely enraptured and immediately in love with England. This time through though, I found the book to be pretty depressing overall. Maybe it's because I've had my own happy experiences in England now to compare it to, but I just found it pretty negative this time around.

The essays included span at least 30 years--- she's gone as a single young woman, a single woman in her 30s, a teacher, a mother, a married woman to a man who wasn't that into it...and a married woman with a husband who was a kindred spirit. Those are the ones I enjoyed the most---the ones featuring her, now deceased, husband and best friend. The ones featuring her spoiled brat daughter, Jenny, were my least favorite. Nothing at all endeared me to that whiny whiner.

Much of the book's references were outdated (Reagan, Diana) but I did relate to the desire to pretend like I live there when I visit. It's much more fun to see England as a wannabe resident than as a tourist---cheaper too.

I didn't enjoy many parts---a lot of going on about her personal life that I couldn't relate to---and the sheep dog trials went ON and on...not a fan.

I did enjoy the chapter on walking sticks.

So, overall, I think there have been much better travels journals written---my own included. However, since this one did play a part in my own love affair with England, I suppose it's not all bad. ( )
  classyhomemaker | Dec 11, 2023 |
With chapters on sheep dog trials, an unexpected foray into the high life at the Savoy, the royal family, badger-watching, incredible and peace-inspiring gardens, the delights of the a good walking-stick, and the joys of walking where the paths lead you, this book was mostly right up my alley.

This book by Susan Allen Toth, and another book I've recently read (A Fine Romance: Falling in Love with the English Countryside by Susan Branch) have done an amazing job at letting me live vicariously and travel the parts of England I would love to see someday. These two authors hit the nail on the head when it comes to describing why I feel drawn to England and what I would look for during a sojourn there.

This book acknowledges periodically that, just as with all places, England has changed over the years. It may not be as safe as it used to be. It isn't a fairy tale. But the attractions described in this book can still be found, and would still seem to fill the traveler with the greatest of satisfaction. ( )
  Alishadt | Feb 25, 2023 |
I enjoy travel memoirs, especially those dealing with the UK. My Love Affair with England is a great little book that showcases what the author loves about England. The book is divided into chapters with each of these being separate experiences on her travels. At times, the experiences are a little dated in relation to present day, but they are still wonderful insights into the author's feelings for her favorite travel spot. ( )
  BookishHooker | Dec 16, 2019 |
Rambling book of memories. Lack of story--felt incoherent and babbling. ( )
  ShadowBarbara | Jan 27, 2017 |
With her first trip to London as a college student in 1960, American professor Toth was a confirmed Anglophile. Over the decades she kept returning, as a new teacher clumsily guiding a group of students on a literary course, through a short and rocky marriage, as a mother with a hectic schedule and an unhappy child, and many times with a new husband who learns to love England too. She hitchhikes, discusses food,sheepdog trials, English gardens and walking the countryside.

And all that sounds pretty unoriginal and sappy, doesn't it? The title alone is probably why I let it sit on the shelf for at four years even though it came with high recommendations. I'll say that Toth would likely have a bigger audience if her titles were more intriguing. For example, the essay title "1978: A Shady Patch" is about the seven month period when she, her daughter and a friend shared a London flat as Toth taught a course at a nearby college. Newly divorced, with little money and even less time, Toth ends up renting the flat belonging to the brother of the infamous Lord Lucan, a place Toth refers to as "The Murder Flat". The friend, brought along as a live-in babysitter, can't deal with Toth's six year-old and both women have brief flings with men who disappear. Now would you expect all that from the title? ( )
  mstrust | Jan 27, 2014 |
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The past lives on, in art and memory, but it is not static: it shifts and changes as the present throws its shadows backwards. The landscape also changes, but far more slowly; it is a living link between what we were and what we have become.
--Margaret Drabble, A Writer's Britain
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FOR JAMES: Who has taken me where I always wanted to go

FOR JENNIFER: Who will travel to places I never saw

But most of all for Henry and Ida, with luv

High on a hill above Padstow, an old fishing village on the North Cornwall coast, a footpath leads along the estuary toward the cliffs edging the sea. Several benches have been placed on this path, and on mild days, villagers sit here, alone or chatting together, and look out across the water to the green hills beyond. On the back of one bench is a small plaque, inscribed "One Day, Henry! Luv, Ida."
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We will be landing at Gatwick Airport shortly.
[Preface] My travels in England have never followed a straight line, and neither does this memoir.
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Journalist and memoirist Susan Allen Toth brings her special England vivdly to life as she recalls her many trips there over the years, where she explored the countryside, traveled both second-class and in luxury, theatre-hopped, hunted for ghosts, and honeymooned. Humorous, bittersweet, and wonderfully eccentric, this is a delightful remembrance to be savored by those who love to travel or just dream of it. "I love MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH ENGLAND. It is written clearly and with a understanding that far supasses any feeling of condescension or superiority or general quaintness among the natives, all of which I detect in books about other countries." M.F.K. Fisher

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