Book Review: Free Country by George Mahood

Land’s End to John O’Groats is a famous journey here in the UK as these are the two furthest points on the mainland. Travelling it is a cult trip done by charity fundraisers and people who fancy a challenge.

George Mahood fancied a challenge so he and his friend Ben start at Land’s End in just a pair of boxer shorts. They plan to get all the way up to Scotland without spending a penny. They will rely on the kindness of strangers to provide them with food, lodgings, clothing and hopefully bikes.

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It’s a cracking idea and an interesting route and the book is passably enjoyable. It falls down however due to Mahood’s writing. He constantly looks for humour, which is good, but far too often it’s juvenile and his snarkiness undermines the point of the trip, which is to find nice people. The people they meet are nice but Mahood’s bitchy asides are definitely not.

There’s also a stream of gay jokes throughout, the kind of thing a teenage boy finds funny and it gets old fast. The result is that Mahood and Ben start to come across as a pair of plonkers and it never inspires much warmth, or at least it didn’t in me.

Some of the events are funny and quirky, and I’d be lying if I said some jokes didn’t land but at too many fall flat or feel lazy.

Mahood’s writing is also kinda bland and he lacks the nuance to tip it into greatness. It passes the time but for a tale of travelling through charity I’d say you’re better off with Mike McIntyre’s The Kindness of Strangers.

Verdict: A decent idea but the narrator is a bit irritating and the writing pedestrian. A few moments raise a smile, even an occasional laugh, but on the whole it’s lacklustre. 5/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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