The Idea of North by Peter Davidson: Some Thoughts

Books about the North seem to have a magnetic attraction for me at the moment as I continue to explore what it means – for me – to be a Northerner following my return to live in the North East of England. I was drawn to this book, sitting on a bookshelf in a gift shop (I think it might have been the Yorkshire Sculpture Park). I was pre-disposed to like the book, since the premise of it was one that held extraordinary appeal to me. However, as I read through it, I started to become restless. Here are my thoughts:

The Idea of North by Peter Davidson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book started off well, exploring the notion that there is an idea of North, and a compulsion embedded into the human soul to push northwards, to explore the vast, empty space that the North is made up of. The author explores human fascination with the North across various different cultures, looking at mythology, folklore, art, literature, and photography, together with recounting the various explorations of the North that have been ventured.

There is some really lovely writing in the book, weaving together disparate themes as the author ponders what it is about that one point on the compass – North – that is so fascinating, and for the most part, he does it well. However, by the time you reach the section of topographies, I was starting to feel that the author was more intent on filling in space than in writing a cohesive narrative encapsulating the idea of North.

I did enjoy reading it – but it became somewhat challenging towards the end. A little bit of editing might have produced a shorter book, but I suspect one that would have been more of an entertaining read.

View all my reviews

Published by Deborah Siddoway

Dickens enthusiast, book lover, wine drinker, writer, lover of all things Victorian, and happily divorced mother of two lovely (and very tall) boys.

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