A guide geared to gongoozlers
Reviewer: Graeme Marsh
JIM Batty’s new book Narrowboat Life is a glossy and weighty book, fit for the finest of coffee tables and full of lovely images, from misty mornings on the river to relaxing afternoons lazily cruising the cut.
If Jamie Oliver was to do a book on narrowboat life, I imagine it would look a lot like this one.
Arranged in a Q and A format, it covers many of the common questions you can expect to get asked by inquisitive friends, family, or occasionally perfect strangers. It could have perhaps been called The Gongoozler’s Guide to Narrowboats as that does seem the target audience.
There is no denying the aesthetic quality of this book, although I’d have like to have seen more information on the waterways themselves, and a bit more discussion on the various boat layouts and designs. Wide beams, despite their increasing popularity and versatility for living aboard, get only a brief mention. There is an overview of narrowboat values, although a bit more of an insight into the costs of boating life would have been a useful addition.
At a smidgeon under £20 you’re paying a lot for the high quality of production and the images. There is some solid information in this book, although it is a little rose-tinted about the realities of life onboard. At times the author drifts into cliche, such as the chapter on ‘Why women do all the work’, a little hard for a single boater like me to relate to and perhaps a little outdated.
Given its size, this is no aide-memoire for getting into boating and perhaps doesn’t offer the depth of information you’ll be needing if seriously considering a life on the water. However, this is made clear from the outset by the author, and it is full of enticing images and pertinent information. Along with the positive and passionate tone of writing, it may just encourage those keen to find out a little more to take the next steps.
My verdict: A cracking Christmas present for anyone who may have mentioned an interest in life on the water, but a little short on detail for those looking to buy their first boat and make the move on to the water.
Narrowboat Life is published by Adlard Coles, 192 pages, £18.99 paperback original/£16.99 eBook. ISBN: 9781472927101