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Narrow Dog to Carcassonne

3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  469 ratings  ·  89 reviews
"We could bore ourselves to death, drink ourselves to death, or have a bit of an adventure..." It was absurd. It was foolhardy. And it was glorious. When they retired, Terry Darlington and his somewhat saner wife Monica�together with their dog, a whippet named Jim�chucked their earthbound life and set out in an utterly unseaworthy sixty-foot canal narrowboat across the ...more
Paperback, 325 pages
Published March 25th 2008 by Delta (first published January 1st 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 790)
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Joe White
While the thesis for this book was an English narrowboat (canal boat) taken down England, across the channel, into Belgium, and then to the south of France, the actual amount of material devoted to boating or canal details could have been summed up in less than 15 pages.
This was a rambling prattle, that appeared to have mostly a satirical negative overtone, regarding fleeting glimpses of people and restaurants along the route.
The owners (writers) were older, the trip was apparently expensive, a
...more
Jim
Despite developing a kind of mild dislike for the author who, I seem to think, used to be in advertising or PR or something similar, this was an interesting story. One of the critics in the reviews for other books hit the nail on the head, however, by stating that all travel books these days needed a conceit of some sort. Taking a houseboat down through the canals in France - I mean why should we be interested? It's your dream, mate, so entertain me if you can.
Well, I suppose he did in the end.
...more
Memo
Gave this one star because I haven't got the option to give it none! He says "We could bore ourselves to death, drink ourselves to death, or have a bit of an adventure..." I feel Mr Darlington denied me the last two options by just boring me do death. I thought it might have improved if they had sunk at the end but the only way to improve this was if it sant at the beginning! A classic example of someone with too much time on their hands that think they have a talent for writing to supplement th ...more
Shay
What a fun book! This is about an older couple and their dog from England who take a narrow boat across the English Channel. It was quite a dangerous outing, but they had a boat pilot with them and another boat to guide them across the channel. This book chronicles their adventures and misadventures. Told with a sardonic, English humor, this book is just a delightful read.
Louise Jones
umm I liked it sort of but could see why people may absolutely detest it , I am not a great traveller and not read many of these type of books it is a bit like looking at other peoples holiday snaps it is really only interesting to u and perhaps great Aunt mabel who has nothing better to do !! SAying that in parts i did enjoy the book as quite like learning about different places and you do get a feel of a place ever so slightly without the hassle of packing a suitcase I do enjoy lit as a whole ...more
Susan Ferguson
I enjoyed Narrow Dog to Indian River. I'd forgotten a lot of his style. It's not strictly narrative and rather fanciful, with a lot of allusions to poetry. Terry writes poetry, although he had to get a real job to make a living. His wife Monica has a degree in French, she speaks excellently and a smattering of several other languages. They have also acquired a whippet that they call Jim. They both love boating along the English canals, although they don't know much and Terry is singularly inept ...more
Kate
"It was absurd. It was foolhardy. And it was glorious. When they retired, Terry Darlington and his somewhat saner wife Monica -- together with their dog, a whippet named Jim -- chucked their earthbound life and set out in an utterly unseaworthy sixty-foot canal narrowboat across the notoriously treacherous English Channel and down to the South of France.

"Aboard the Phyllis May, you'll dive through six-foot waves in the Channel and be swept down the terrible Rhone. You'll meet the French nobody m
...more
Jane
Terry Darlington formerly wrote for Punch and other magazines. This book is a travelogue of the Darlington's journey to Carcassonne on their narrowboat. It is full of humour and peppered with Terry's brilliant wit. I enjoyed the story and the humour.
However, the book itself was let down badly by the fact that it had not been proof-read properly. It was full of typographical and grammatical errors which I found quite off putting. Far too often there was no spacing between sentences, words with ca
...more
Crystal
So, I am only part way into this book, but I just have to share that I am listening to it on audio, and the reader is hysterical. I have no idea what is going on most of the time (partly because I am a very inattentive listener), but I am thoroughly entertained most of the time!

Update: So, now that I've finished...

This was a really great book, even if it did take me two CDs of the audio and a map to figure out what was going on. Sometimes, it is much wiser to read the jacket of the book first. A
...more
Rosie
I bought two copies of this, one for me and one for my aunt, whose daughter has a narrow-boat. As soon as I began reading it, I realised my aunt would give up - since the complete absence of quotation marks makes the reading of it confusing.

I persevered for 75 pages before putting it aside. There's some lovely writing in here, and entertaining stories but I really did struggle with the lack of quotation marks.

Maybe I'll dip into it again, sometime.
Sharon Gardner
I really didn't like the style in which this was written. There were glimpses of an interesting story but they were lost amongst the throng of words. Everything seemed to be treated as if of equal importance whether it was a banal conversation with another boat owner, or near fatal encounters with large barges. I think if you like the style of writing you will love the book, but I'm afraid I didn't like it.
Obisbooks
Terry and his wife Monica take a narrow boat, one that sails along the canals, from England across the channel and down through France to Carcassonne. Along with Jim, their whippet dog (also narrow) they face various difficulties and delights along the way. They learned, they ran into interesting characters, had boat problems, people problems and I’m not exactly sure how long this took them and if they really enjoyed it.
I wanted to like this, it looked funny and the text was in blue, easy on the
...more
Mary Alice
It took me a while to get used to this style of writing. It's very conversational, but only in the sense that you are trying to have a conversation with someone while sitting in a rowdy pub and you can only hear every other sentence. Still, somehow this disjointed writing style works and the story fills in nicely. I'm enjoying Darlington's dry sense of humor and literary references. I plan to pass it on to my parents, who had a similar narrow boat adventure in England, minus the whippet.
Kathy
After reading Narrow Dog to Indian River, I knew I had to read this one. Terry Darlington & his wife are Brits who take their skinny dog and their narrowboat (translation: long, skinny boat designed to travel through scenic canals) through London, across the English Channel (which narrowboats are NOT designed to do) to France and down canals to Carcassonne.
Terry's writing style could be described as humorous stream of consciousness that actually ends up making sense. He is truly gifted at t
...more
Al
You don't have to have boated on a European canal or river to enjoy this book, but it helps. Terry and his wife piloted an ungainly English narrow boat from England across the channel, and then through Belgium and France. This is the tale of their adventure. Terry is an entertaining writer, with many sharp insights. There are times when his approach is a little overbearing, and one suspects he is exaggerating some of the adventures to make the story more interesting, but all in all it's a fun r ...more
Jennifer
I imagine some people would not take to Terry Darlington's style and it did get a bit exhausting at times but I enjoyed this book and laughed a lot. I always thought the "Narrow Dog" was the name of the Darlington's canal boat but it turns out it refers to Jim the whippet.
Debra
So, when most of us retire, "we could bore ourselves to death, drink ourselves to death, or have a bit of an adventure." The Darlington's chose adventure - taking a narrowboat (a English canalboat) across the Channel and down French waterways with their "narrow dog," Jim the Whippet. With a sense of humor dry as the Sahara, Mr. Darlington guides this adventure with gusto. Sometimes, I got frustrated by his style. Eventually I realized that for me it was more enjoyable in small doses. I would hav ...more
Bowerbird
I love the wry humour and also the local interest. This is more a book of reminiscenses than a straightforward travel diary, and because of this I found I preferred to read it slowly and dip into it. I have spent a short holiday on a narrow boat and it introduces you to a parallel world where things move at walking pace. Maybe this is how the book should be read. Nevertheless it is delightful. Belgium, Holland and France drifted by - often closed! - but plenty of time to sample the local wines a ...more
Alison
I have been reading this since early December and am not getting on with it all that well but will stick with it as I don't like abandoning things part way through. It is not brilliantly written but is good to nod off to at night - two retired nutters on a canal boat put out from Stone in Staffordshire (where BT had a training centre)and boat down through the midlands to London and then out to sea, crossing the Channel and boating down the canals through France and part of Belgium. They have a w ...more
Laura Bang
A lovely, meandering read through the canals of England and France. This book is definitely not for everyone, though. The writing is very stream-of-conscious-y and often lacks specific details, and the dialogue is not differentiated from the rest of the text (no quotation marks or line breaks between speakers). So it took me about 20 or 30 pages to get into the rhythm of the book and get over my usual textual expectations, but once I did I liked it. The descriptions are quite pretty. (And I love ...more
Wendy Denham
Very funny book and a good read for beside the pool on holiday (wish I had kept it for then) I have had a good chuckle at the antics of the author.
Don Weidinger
fit whippet fastest for its weight, 14meter variance and 8knot tide, boat 7times longer and cost, Oxford Canal, the destination of all French towns a restaurant, giving up to Nazis was wrong-giving in to evil, evil requires absence of virtue-not making a stand.
Phair
Looked like this would be such a fun travelogue but it was a bit of a disappointment. Odd writing style: right in the middle of a description the author breaks into a quotation, a sly aside, or and internal conversation so you're not sure who, if anyone, he's talking to or about. Often colorful & witty but more often just confusing. Descriptions range from snide remarks to lyrical passages. Bt the close of the book the author and his wife were sick of the journey and so was I. I will give t ...more
Garfield
May 21, 2008 Garfield rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone that enjoys travel books and dogs
At first I wasn't sure I liked the author's writing style. Seemed kind of choppy at first.But in no time at all he won me over with his sly, british sense of humor. Had many a good chuckle while reading it and read some of the funnier passages out aloud to my husband.
What an adventure. Guess I learned from this book that you're never too old to try something new and "dangerous". LOL. Though can't say I'd be that brave.
Looking forward to continuing the journey with the authors and their narrow
...more
Patrick
When I started this book, I thought the author was an idiot that couldn't write. After about 50 pages, my impression started to evolve. By the time I finished the book, I was convinced the author was a genius. He has a truly unique style and voice, something hard to achieve in this day and age. I read this prior to going on a narrowboat trip in England, and it really sparked my interest. On a subsequent trip, we went to Carcassonne, and I am awaiting the opportunity to read the book again. I rea ...more
Pamela Ferguson
Fun read about journey in narrowboat with man, wife, and whippet! Quirky language barrier between English sayings, French references, and lots of boating navagational references kept you on your toes. Some laugh out loud comedy! Good story if you like travel adventures! Bon voyage!
Suzanne Krueger
Listening to this book, I think, is definitely an advantage. In the style of Peter Mayle, a retired Englishman, his wife and dog (a whippet) travel across the English Channel and through the canals in France in an English Narrow Boat. Having no sailing experience, the author relates every nightmare & mishap with great English humor.
I didn't mind all the quotes and French (as others have noted), as I like references to poetry/literature and I'm a francophile.
This was a light read and it made
...more
Mackay
Jul 07, 2008 Mackay rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Francophiles, dog lovers, boating enthusiastes
Shelves: france, memoir
The adventures of a retired English couple, their Whippet Jim, and their English canal boat, which (foolhardily) they sail across the Channel, down the Rhone to the Canal Midi and the fabulous medieval walled city of Carcassonne.

The book is a loving and keenly observed portrait of the dog Jim (thus of the owners), and Darlington has a wry, dry British humor and excels at descriptive passages. But by the end, despite the many amusements, I was ready to be done.

Worthwhile summer book.
Emily

Found this book in the travel section of the Southwark library and then saw it listed everywhere (Stanfords and LIving in France magazine).

While I really loved this book, I could not get passed Terry Darlington's narrative. It was just a bit too stream of conscious for me. I loved the dog, Jim and his obsession with pork scratchings as well as hearing about life on the canals, which is why I gave it a three. I quit half way though as I just found myself avoiding the book.
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Terry and Monica Darlington sail the waterways on their narrowboat. Terry writes books, Monica acts as his manager, and Jim and Jess act as their dogs.
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