Penguin £16.99 (292pp) £15.29 from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Wales: Churches, Houses, Castles, By Simon Jenkins
Boyd Tonkin is Literary Editor at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Social Policy Editor of the New Statesman and has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes. He has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime's achievement in literature.
Friday 20 January 2012
Jenkins the Pundit may make enemies, but Jenkins the Guide-Historian deserves all his many friends. Here, the National Trust chairman follows up his superb gazetteers of England with an architectural tour through the Principality that will steer actual travellers and inspire armchair ones.
Always readable, never bland, Jenkins celebrates Norman keeps and medieval churches, Jacobean mansions and Victorian chapels, from Plas Newydd and Beaumaris on Anglesey down to Chepstow and Tintern Abbey on the edge of England. He thinks native self-deprecation, abetted by English snobbery, has made Wales "sell itself short". If so, this lavish volume should do wonders for the nation's self-esteem.
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