Non fiction

The Gran Tour by Ben Aitken

About the Book

One millennial, six coach trips, one big generation gap.

When Ben Aitken learnt that his gran had enjoyed a four-night holiday including four three-course dinners, four cooked breakfasts, four games of bingo, a pair of excursions, sixteen pints of lager and luxury return coach travel, all for a hundred pounds, he thought, that’s the life, and signed himself up. Six times over.

Good value aside, what Ben was really after was the company of his elders – those with more chapters under their belt, with the wisdom granted by experience, the candour gifted by time, and the hard-earned ability to live each day like it’s nearly their last.

A series of coach holidays ensued – from Scarborough to St Ives, Killarney to Lake Como – during which Ben attempts to shake off his thirty-something blues by getting old as soon as possible

What I thought

I almost didn’t finish the book. I read a fair bit. I went to Scarborough, Cornwall and Llandudno and came to the conclusion that the book really wasn’t for me. I was quite disappointed in that I thought it would be hilariously funny. I thought I’d be reading about all sorts of escapades, things going wrong etc and the book is just nothing like that. I just thought it mundane chatter with the odd interesting bit of information thrown in about the various places visited.

However I ended up picking it up again with the intention of skim reading it when I found myself between books and wanted something light to read. I finished off the trip to Llandudno and next up was Ireland. It was here that I found myself warming to the book, warming to Ben the author and paying more attention to those he was sharing his coach trip and hotel with. I didn’t skim read any of it as it had finally piqued my interest. Ben’s fellow travellers to Ireland seemed far more interesting than those that came before on the previous road trips or maybe Ben just got more adept at picking out the funnier bits of their conversations. How does he even remember all those random musings that take place between Ben and all the characters he meets along the way.

This book won’t have you rolling around in mirth, it’s far too subtle for that but it will certainly have you chuckling, maybe even nodding along in agreement in parts. It won’t bestow on you great swathes of touristy information about the different places they visit, just a little bit of obscure history here and there that you may not otherwise have ever known.

On the whole I did like the authors writing. His ability to impart some of the completely random conversations that went on is a skill in itself and one which I grew to admire. At times it was like listening to Cissie and Ada (the comedy sketch characters played by Les Dawson and Roy Barraclough).

I did end up quite enjoying the book and I’m glad I decided to pick it up again and carry on with it. It’s light-hearted, an easy read, the kind of book you can pick up and put down at your leisure and there’ll always be something in there to amuse you and make you think.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

♥ Happy Reading ♥

The book is published today in e-book and hardback

With thanks to the publisher Icon Books for an ARC of this book via Netgalley.

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