The stories and History of ‘Britain’s most elegant and intriguing city’. Sometimes in Bath is a captivating story-tour through the city’s history conducted by Charles Nevin, the award-winning journalist, national newspaper columnist, author and humorist. Beau Nash, Old King Bladud, young Horatio Nelson, Jane Austen’s Mr Bennet, the Emperor Haile Selassie and many more spring to life in episodes shimmering with the curious magic of Britain’s oldest resort and premier purveyor of good health, happiness and romance for the last 2000 years. Each story has an afterword distinguishing the fiction from fact, adding enthralling historical detail – and giving visitors useful links to Bath’s many sights and fascinations. Sometimes in Bath is warm, witty, wistful and will be loved by all who come to and from this most enchanting and enchanted of cities.
This book is tremendous fun! I’m not quite sure how else to categorise it since it’s a mixture of history, geography, fact, fiction, social commentary and humour. This all makes for a fascinating read.
Even if you’ve never been there, the many mentions of this spa town in literature mean that pretty much everyone has heard of it and probably seen photos. It’s a distinctive city and in this equally distinctive book proves to be a very worthy setting. We get many glimpses of it alongside the interesting and eccentric characters we’re introduced to. In fact, it’s the only place you could get away with juxtaposing famous Admiral Nelson and fictional Mr Bennet so successfully!
The book is alive with humour. As well as appearing in unlikely combinations and situations, the characters are all wonderfully rounded and frequently ridiculous. In the first chapter alone there’s one named Britt Bakoff, and another cook, Sally, who in frustration utters the cry “Bloody health and pastry” when asked to bake a less calorific bun, and which is directly inspired by how the Bath Oliver biscuit came about. I know this for a fact because, since we’ve caught him red-handed in rewriting history, the author admits at the end of every chapter that he’s used his rich imagination in creating each fic-fact tales and he gives the relevant background explanations and biographies.
Immensely entertaining as well as educational, grab yourself a copy!
About the author
Charles Nevin has written for, among others, the Guardian, the Independent on Sunday, the Daily Telegraph, The Times and Sunday Times, and the New York Times. Sometimes in Bath is his second book of fiction following Lost in the Wash with Other Things, a collection of short stories. He has also published three books of non-fiction – Lancashire, Where Women Die of Love, a paean to the neglected romance of his native county, which was as praised by Jeremy Paxman and Joanna Lumley. The Book of Jacks, a history and lexicon of the name and finally, So Long Our Home, a history of Knowsley Road, the famous old ground of St Helens Rugby Football Club. Charles lives in an old watermill near Bath, which is ideally placed for his forays into the enchanting city.