I’m terribly behind in my reviewing: I finished this one near the start of the month but seem to be doing everything out of order. This is a book I bought in one of my favourite bookshops – the Edge of the World bookshop in Penzance, last time we were down there in October last year. This photo is the one I took of all my purchases from that trip – I note I read the Jo Brand really quickly (I think I started it on the train home) and “Mr Loverman” was read in February this year, but “On the Marsh” very recently. I have “Wilding” all set up to read with Emma, and “Homesick” I’ve just started, and the other one is this one. Not TOO bad?

So, the last book I reviewed, “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race” confounded my expectations in one way. This one was different from what I expected in a different way …

Jonathan Gornall – “How to Build a Boat”

(03 October 2019, Edge of the World Bookshop)

This is subtitled “A Father, His Daughter and the Unsailed Sea” and the back cover implied it would be all about an unskilled man learning how to work with wood and make a small sailing boat. Which it was, but a lot of it was about his misadventures trying to row across the Atlantic in a former life (which was fine) and his autobiography, life as a journalist and excitement at becoming a father for the second time aged 58. This was sweet, and the autobiographical bits about his relationship with his mother were resolved during the progress of the book, but I’d have liked more about the actual building of the boat – which is typical of me and my dislike for too much personal stuff in such books, and the author was probably exhorted to add more of that.

The technical bits were fun, although they soon got so complex that at least some sort of line drawing or diagram somewhere in the book apart from the nice woodcut on the front cover would have been useful. The personalities around boat-building in his local area are interesting, and I liked the writing technique of starting and finishing the book with him poised with a hose, choosing between two methods of checking whether the boat is seaworthy. But I can’t say I massively engaged with this one as much as I’d hoped.