Since it’s Nonfiction November I should probably share some non-fiction reviews! East of Croydon follows Sue Perkins on her travels around Asia whilst filming documentaries for the BBC. It also covers her father’s terminal cancer and coming to terms with death of a loved one.
Historically, the Perkins tribe were neither explorers, nor adventurers.
I want to be friends with Sue, she is funny and kind, and I loved spending time with her by way of her audiobook narration. I laughed, I cried. I laughed whilst crying (honestly, she’s the only person I know that’s made me laugh whilst recounting time spent by a parent’s death bed).
If you’ve watched Sue’s travels down the Mekong River or in India, you may find some parts familiar as this is kind of a behind the scenes version of those documentaries. However, I loved the interactions between her and her film crew, the countless bouts of food poisoning and all the times they are not on the same page when it comes to the film they are actually making.
There are sections on translations between what a producer says and what they really mean. At one point Sue talks about which words for vagina are suitable for which BBC channels, which is relevant because she finds herself in classrooms on several occasions, often shouting out the English words for body parts…
The most glorious and the most difficult thing about my job is that I get to observe. I get to watch some of the most exciting, breath-taking and curious things on the planet; I also get to watch some of the most cruel and heart-breaking too.
It’s not all laughs, there are times when she sees through the façade that travellers are often presented. She meets the street kids of India, whole families living beneath bridges and I remember her breaking down on the TV show. She is saddened by poverty and environmental damage.
I am usually not fond of writers sneaking in personal trauma into books seemingly about other subjects, but I’ll let Sue off. She needs to vent about some things, and the parts about her father are done with tenderness and humour.
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Book Source: Purchased