Travel books and books for travel

My alterego Jane Lockwood blogged yesterday about a travel book she enjoyed recently, Sultry Climates: Travel and Sex by Ian Littlewood. It was a refreshing contrast to another book about travel, excerpts from The Countries of Europe Described, written by Mrs. Favell Lee Mortimer in 1849. She was also the author of what has been described as “one of the most outspokenly sadistic children’s books ever written,” The Peep of Day.

Edited by Todd Pruzan, and titled The Clumsiest People in Europe: Mrs. Mortimer’s Bad-Tempered Guide to the Victorian World, this book has the attraction of a multi-car pile up. You keep reading in horrified fascination as Mrs. Mortimer can’t find one nice thing to say about anyone. Abroad is populated entirely by dirty, shiftless, lazy, useless foreigners, most of whom are Catholics (which explains a lot). A town may look pretty as you approach it by sea, but when you get there it has mean narrow dirty streets, and so on. It’s funny but at the same time it makes you cringe.

Mrs. Mortimer went abroad twice in her life–once, in fact, when she was a teenager in the late Regency to France (where they like being smart but are not very clean) and Belgium (not much to say because it is so like the countries on either side)–and that was obviously enough. After that she read widely.

Talking of which, I’m about to leave soon for the airport for my very short trip to England to visit my aged father who is not a tree–and I’m taking two books, Pamela by Richardson and my buddy Esri Rose’s Bound To Love Her, a funny book about elves in Boulder–fairly typical for my travel reading, a weighty tome and something fun. I’ll report back on all.

Update: arrived safely, gawd I’m jetlagged.

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Diane Gaston
14 years ago

I hope you have a better time than Miss Mortimer!

Wish I was with you!!!!

Esri Rose
14 years ago

Did get the Tylenol PM?

It was so much fun to gab with you. Hope your trip is going well!

Susan Wilbanks
14 years ago

Have a wonderful trip!

I’ve heard of the Peep of Day series because Marilla Cuthbert talked about borrowing them from the manse to see to Anne Shirley’s religious education early on in Anne of Green Gables. I’d no idea they were so gruesome, though. I just googled them and found the following excerpt:

How kind of God it was to give you a body! I hope that your body will not get hurt… Will your bones break?–Yes, they would, if you were to fall down from a high place, or if a cart were to go over them….

How easy it would be to hurt your poor little body! If it were to fall into the fire, it would be burned up. If a great knife were run though your body, the blood would come out. If a great box were to fall on your head, your head would be crushed. If you were to fall out of the window, your neck would be broken. If you were not to eat some food for a few days, your little body would be very sick, your breath would stop, and you would grow cold, and you would soon be dead.

Megan Frampton
14 years ago

I think I’ve met a few Mrs. Mortimers in my life.

Have a good trip, Janet.

14 years ago

Say hi to your father who is not a tree! And have a good trip.

Mrs. Mortimer sounds like a Gothic Eeyore.

I also want to read the book about the elves in Boulder. I lived there for my seventh grade year.

Keira Soleore
14 years ago

Happy trails, Janet. Please give your pop (that is, aged father who is not a tree) a hug from all of us. Speedy recovery.

14 years ago

I hope you have a safe trip back home.

So, which travel book do you think will influence you on your trip?

14 years ago

Have a good trip!

In contrast to Mrs. Mortimer, one of my favorite travel books ever is The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain. He joins a bunch of pilgrims on a cruise through Europe to the Holy Land. Quite hilarious!


Keira Soleore
14 years ago

The best travel book I’ve read is “Tropical Classical” by Pico Iyer.


Elena Greene
14 years ago

Shudders on that Peep of Day excerpt, Susan!

Hope you’re having a great trip, Janet.