Julie Haigh, We Love Memoirs moderator and top Amazon reviewer has just posted a fantastic 5* review for Fred's Diary 1981.
Links to the review follow - please vote Julie's review as 'Helpful'.
The full review is reproduced below:
I was lucky enough to win a signed paperback copy of this book in a competition. I also have the kindle editions of both the new edition and the older edition, and, at various times, I did read parts of all of them to compare-eg: when I was at a hospital appointment, rather than taking my precious signed copy, I read on the original kindle version-I later got the brand new kindle version and continued reading from the two new editions. I like diary format-this is kept very simple, it feels as if it would be very authentic to the original diary. Some of it is almost just notes then some sentences are fuller. I like how it is as it was then-it's not been written years later and things tried to remember-this is the actual diary he kept at the time. It's now all in one volume and I still re-read and enjoyed the first two sections I'd read previously in his two shorter books (£99 to Hong Kong and Time in Thailand). We’re soon exploring India. This is the kind of writing I love to read; informative, describing the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of the area. We have climate details, these happen throughout his trip and I found it welcome information. It’s very interesting finding out all the places he plans to visit: Agra, Nepal, Sri Lanka. Also very interesting is reading about the night bazaar with all the stalls selling their wares and the food stalls too where the food is cooked on-site. This is a very detailed diary-there really is everything in here-both of local interest etc, the foods he had, how much it cost and right down to the times he woke up and went to bed! A very open, honest and revealing diary which appeals very nicely to my nosey nature. I love reading of other people's travels to far flung destinations. It means I get the feel of going there without all the inconveniences. There are great examples and descriptions of his seeing the sights to be seen-the first bit of the diary doesn't have this because of his unexpected detour to prison! Contained in this book are the author’s adventures, the people he meets: other travellers and locals, the foods he eats, the sights he sees. It's all a very interesting log of a memorable trip of a few months from many years ago. Apple crumble?-I was somehow amused to hear that they do this pudding here! It seemed so out of place and unexpected! Eg: fried rice, daal, vegetable curry......Apple crumble!!!!! Of course, this is in the days before email and he keeps checking if he has any post-only to find there is frequently none. There are news events from the time included-e.g., mention of The Ripper sentenced to life imprisonment. I like how he tells of the books he is reading at various times throughout his trip. One of particular interest, I wondered if this book was still available? It was amazing to think that here was a type of travel book which was interesting ‘Fred’ back then-and he was to end up writing such a book himself. I found this book is still available so this introduced me to yet another book! This is the kind of thing I do-I don’t just read quickly through something-for those few days or week etc. when I’m reading a book such as this, I live it!-I enjoy looking things up and finding out more about the places mentioned etc. I love lots of detail and I get so much out of it. I realise that, for some people, the detail may be a bit exhaustive and indeed, this new edition has quite a few pages less than the original one-but, it’s just my sort of thing. I loved the intrigue about whether Rita would reply, what was going on? Was it on or off with her? Fred certainly keeps us guessing with the Rita aspect! So he mentions he did take plenty of pictures-I would have liked some in here. Oh my goodness! But oh my how interesting where they see the bodies burning and about what they do with the ones not cremated. And another thing-he's brought out this new edition-and this year 2015-has exactly the same days and dates as 1981. I do like how things tie in like this-what a great idea to bring out a new edition in a year which mirrors the original. It's great, it's just written in normal, everyday language-a genuine, authentic, REAL diary. Just read it like that, it's not meant to be an action novel! Just real, true, raw. And I like that. Oh my goodness, SO interesting-the bit about the Hanging Gardens. I was reading this book whilst waiting for a hospital appointment and was so engrossed in it that I jumped out of my skin when the doctor called my name out! This is a record of an experience, a moment in Fred's history, it tells it like it was. It doesn't need any dressing up. I really enjoyed it. The diary has engrossing moments and more 'normal' moments too-this is real life. This is an edited and updated edition and I noticed on comparing my different editions that some bits are missed out-I loved all the details but I accept he may have been recommended to take some excess out. There’s still plenty of detail and info in here-a great record of Fred's trip, very enjoyable.