Monday, 4 May 2015

Lille and the Best of Travel Writing

All this last week, right up to Friday's Book launch I have been thinking and talking about France. 

So, loving France as I do, I was moved by this wonderful piece about Lille by the immaculate Laurence Phillips. This piece on the Brandt Guide Website is  a wonderful example of the literary art of travel writing. The evocative sensual writing, the sense of place and the evocation of atmosphere all make me want to dash to Lille and dance the night away.

Read this about the square where they dance
From the place du Théâtre I stepped up and through the entrance to the Vieille Bourse, Lille’s timeless Rialto for bibliophiles and chess players, where usually the most physical effort comes from the holding to the light of the slightly foxed uncut pages of a 19th-century novella, or the flourished taking of a queen’s bishop by a cannily primed pawn. 

But it’s not just places that Laurence Phillips shares with us. He observes people with a kindly,  perceptive eye.

I loved his allusions to the dancers:

  • a great bearded bear of a working man in a heavy, plaid woodsman’s shirt..
  • a well-upholstered Juno clasped a tiny lad to her embonpoint
  • a bright tailor’s eyes peered expertly through wire-rimmed spectacles
  •    as a veteran of the dance floor continued nimbly to foot it across the courtyard, his younger companion knees bent, raised, swept and strutted in coy assertion of confident complicity in this ritual courtship.

This is the best of travel writing, where the reader is treated as a traveller rather than a tourist; it makes one eager to share, to taste, to re-explore a place and its people.

Find Laurence HERE

'Playwright, lyricist, award-winning author and children's poet, Laurence Phillips combines a passion for the stage with an infectious wanderlust. Laurence has been escaping to France since boyhood and has written many and varied books about the country. He has been described by the French press as a charming bon vivant and by British critics as a witty and entertaining enthusiast.'

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