Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North
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Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  1,056 ratings  ·  99 reviews
'My name is Stuart Maconie, and I am from the North Of England. Some time ago, I was standing in my kitchen, rustling up a Sunday brunch for some very hungover, very Northern mates who were "down" for the weekend. One of them was helping me out and, recipe book in hand, asked "where are the sun-dried tomatoes?" "They're behind the cappuccino maker," I replied. Silence fell...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 1st 2007 by Ebury Press (first published 2007)
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I loved this. I found it hilarious, but humour is a very personal thing, and other readers may not crack a smile, I do realise.

A tour of the North of England, witty, erudite, argumentative and loving, by an exiled son of Wigan. He knows a staggering amount about the music, the popular culture, the street life and the landscape, but he still has much to discover, which he does with wit and verve.

This is my review on Vulpes Libris.

Stuart Maconie is from Wigan. This may not mean anything to someone not from Britain, unless you've read George Orwell, but it's a post-industrial Lancashire town. In a word, northern.

After living down south (ie London and the midlands) for several years, he realises he's forgotten his inner northern-ness and sets off to rediscover what makes Northern England different and shapes its identity. It's a funny and touching look at cities and countryside from Staffordshire to Hadrian's Wall. He tries...more
Mar 15, 2008 Nicola rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: any pie-loving northener
Enjoyable but not consistently entertaining. Maconie is from Wigan and the north west gets a pretty thorough treatment, whereas Yorkshire and the north east are very rushed. As someone brought up in Yorkshire who is now living in Newcastle I was a bit disappointed, but after all, what can you expect from someone from the wrong side of the Pennines ;-)

Despite this complaint though it was a good read and at times had me laughing out loud which is always a good sign. Oh and it also made me really h...more
May 26, 2008 Bob rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Northerners
Recommended to Bob by: My brother John
Maconie admits at the end of the book that he fell in love with the North while writing it. He claims that he started with a strong intention of not just writing some piece of Northern bombast or Tourist information fluff. Both of those statements are believable.
He clearly likes the North, both the landscape and the people. He does go for objectivity, but says something nice about just about everybody (most importantly, he says lots of good things about Geordies, which may colour this review).
I found this an interesting read..I'm from the Midlands myself but there's much in this book I can identify with particulary the 'Working class' aspects and the cultural inheritance I share sue to this.
The north of Maconie's visitation is a hotbed of pop culture and politics (generally left leading..Marx and Engels get a mention as does the Sufragette movements etc) as such it gained more interesting with me as both I find riveting subjects.
It's been a while since I visited many of the Northern...more
This was fab! I really like Stuart Maconie - I even made hubby buy me a digital radio when he moved over to 6music, so I could continue to listen. He has a really good turn of phrase, is funny without being silly and it generally a lot more erudite than being a DJ might give him credit for. It's an observational book, based on the surmise that the north has to start somewhere and he goes in search of where that might be (the answer seems to be Crewe - as an unrepentant Southerner that seems a bi...more
Rob Kitchin
Like Maconie I’m a northern exile and the opening few pages were entertaining enough. The basic premise is that Macione heads north from his new southern life of sun-dried tomatoes and his cappuccino machine to discover what makes the north what it is, why it differs from the south of Britain, and to rediscover his inner northerner. He starts by stating that he’d ‘like to think that it could be enjoyed by the fine people of the south too’ and then launches into a broadside against the south and...more
Johanna Breen
Maconie accredits Wallace and Grommit to Wigan and Dickens' Coketown to Manchester, while many Prestonians I know would argue that both of these belong just as much to their city. However, I didn't let it ruin my enjoyment of what is essentially a really good book.

This isn't as amusing, nor as well organised as Bill Bryson's travel writing but it's stuffed to the rafters with passion and interesting facts so who cares? (I've already had much fun boring friends in the pub asking them which is th...more
I was the only person in book club who didn't like this, having given up just over 100 pages in. I felt that for a book classified as 'travel' it had lost its way: it neither made me want to visit the places described (and let's face it, who could make 10 pages about Crewe do that?) nor return to the book itself. Much of the content I found irrelevant, such as long histories of bands or football clubs, and the odd nuggets of interesting fact or description were overwhelmed.
Perhaps to truly appre...more
This book would have been fantastic if the author hadn't spent half his time complaining about London/the South.

The information, descriptions and history are truly interesting, some of his anecdotes are hilarious - but every time you start to enjoy finding out more about the North he wades in and ruins it by making sweeping generalisations about the south. Mostly by categorising people in the South (by which he seems to mean only London) as either rich media types, trendy Shoreditch hipsters, or...more
Jun 09, 2012 Meo rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: travel
A witty tour around the North of England - with a bias for the North-West, given that Maconie hails roughly from Wigan - taking in music, football, posh food, chavs, WAGS and Gormley. Maconie supplements his survey of the current state of the Northern Nation with nostalgic looks back to times gone by (not necessarily including flat caps and whippets). His writing style is light and friendly, but makes sharp points with the timing of a ninja. Bonus points for including lyrics by The Icicle Works...more
As a fan of BBC radio 2`s Radcliffe and Maconie show, and so used to the on air banter, I`ve found it easy to slip into the flow of this book. I can`t help but hear Stuarts voice reading aloud to me in my head as I read which adds to the

As an exiled Londoner living in the North, and having lived in a number of northern cities, I`m finding it refreshingly honest.
Terry Clague
"The Thames is a wretched river after the Mersey and the ships are not like Liverpool ships and the docks are barren of beauty ... it is a beastly hole after Liverpool; for Liverpool is the town of my heart and I would rather sail a mudflat there than command a clipper out of London"

Former Poet Laureat John Masefield (from Maconie, S: Pies and Prejudice)
Robbie Williams
When it's good, it's excellent... He's got some of the most genuinely funny turns of phrase around. But the musical name dropping was irritating; the before-the-bust reportage is already dating fast. Also, weird choice to start a book about the north in London, and with Londoners views about the north... Not really a marriage of form with content.
Steve Suttie
Stuart Maconie is such a laid back writer, it's amazing how much information, facts and laughs he can fit into one book, whilst maintaining a steady, meandering, chilled out writing pace.

This book is essentially a history of the north of England over the past few hundred years. Maconie clearly feels a deep pride in the north's industrial heritage, and a great sadness in how it has all turned out now.

The book starts with that age old question - where does the north actually start?

If you like Mac...more
Matti Karjalainen
Stuart Maconien "Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North" (Ebury, 2007) on englantilaisen mediapersoonan ja populaarikulttuuriin erikoistuneen toimittajan huumorilla kyllästetty kirja Pohjois-Englannista, joka on myös Wiganissa syntyneen kirjailijan kotiseutua. Maconie matkaa pitkin ja poikin saarivaltakunnan pohjoisia kolkkia, Chesteristä ylöspäin Newcastleen ja Sunderlandiin saakka.

Maconie tutustuttaa lukijan Pohjois-Englantiin, sen ihmisiin, kaupunkeihin ruokaan, urheiluun, historiaan, kul...more
Cindy Hudson
Fans of Heather Vogel Frederick’s Mother-Daughter Book Club series (I’m one!) are sure to be happy with her latest book, Pies and Prejudice. This year the book club girls are adjusting to high school and reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with their moms. And just as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy discover that you can’t always judge someone by first impressions, the book club girls are finding out how true that can be in real life as well.

Some of those first impressions are made when Emm...more
I only knew Stuart Maconie from various TV programmes he's presented and his awesome 6Music radio show, "The Freak Zone". I hadn't realised he had a few books out as well. After buying a couple of Mark Radcliffe's tomes, we figured we'd give Maconie's a shot.

"Pies and Prejudice" is Maconie's travelogue/hommage to the North of England (Maconie is from Wigan - a true "woolly-back", as apparently folk from that area are known). After living in London for many years, he journeys around "the North" a...more
I must admit, I found this book a bit tricky. Don't get me wrong, it was beautifully and eloquently written, witty, well researched and educational. It was just the subject matter. In the end, reading about the north of England just wasn't enough to grip me for a long period of time, so I dipped into it, little and often, and that was great, the perfect solution.

It was a bit like reading a mush up of a history, sociology and geography text book combined; very interesting, but not as satisfying t...more
As a northerner, I really loved this book - it made me very nostalgic for many of the places I've known and loved over the years, and long to visit those I've missed out on. Maconie really captures the pride and strength of the northern people and the rugged beauty of the landscape in which they live, without being patronising in any way. The quotation from Tennyson's 'O Swallow' stuck a chord with me: the south is 'bright and fierce and fickle' whilst the north is 'dark and true and tender'. My...more
Nicholas Whyte

A couple of years back I read Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island and wasn't hugely impressed. This, on the other hand, is a wonderful book about the North of England, prefaced by the Ninth Doctor quote, "Lots of planets have a north", written with affection and humour, and occasional rage against Southern and/or London prejudices. As a non-English person myself, I don't have a particular stake other than cheering for the underdog; as someone who has...more
This wonderful book does exactly what it sets out to do – humorously, insightfully and knowledgeably. Maconie, who comes from Wigan himself, deploys a seemingly inexhaustible fund of cultural knowledge and an authentically pawky sense of humour in an effort to prove to us that the north of England is both completely unlike the south and wonderfully diverse in itself. He successfully contends that northerners are both objects of southern prejudice and perfectly capable of triumphing over such adv...more
Kendra Levine
I need to preface this review: I have an unhealthy love for Northern England. I can't explain it, but for some reason there's a weird pull from that region. It started with Sheffield Wednesday, grew with Coronation Street, and now I'm pretty much anti-Southern England.

That's why I read this book. My friend, who's from Lancashire and finds my love of his land amusing, told me to read it and so I did. Maconie has great affection for the North and it comes through the pages. It was a very enjoyable...more
Pete Acott
It's Ok in parts and sometimes above ok, but there is an inherently anti-southern bias bubbling away in it which I didn't like, although I think the author would pass that off as all part of the package. I think it was a lot like so many books about travel these days, i.e a contrived idea to get the writer a free holiday or outing somewhere she or he has never been to before, or in this case designed to get him a freemans back to the areas he grew up in but which good taste and upward mobility l...more
Liz Chapman
I actually have not finished reading this book because I have a load of other books I want to read instead. This book is at time quite indigestible and at other time there are very funny accounts of his personal experiences. I would have liked the book to have been about his travels in the North to rediscover it , with little anecdotes added to each chapter. Instead there are long tracts where you get exhausted reading and wish the author would pause to take a breath. Sometimes it feels like jus...more
I seem to have been reading this for aaages! Interesting book though. Being a 'softie southerner' who has never really spent any time at all up north (to my shame) I was interested to read this.
There were quite a few parts that made me laugh out loud (I soon began to wish I'd read it on kindle as there were loads of passages I wanted to highlight!) I do feel that I have learnt a few things about 'oop north' however I don't (myself) feel that this country is as divided as this book makes it seem....more
Jul 20, 2007 Tom rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: northerners
Stuart loves a pun, loves the North, loves re-contextualising the North in the changing context of modern Britain.

A lovely book to dip into, with a couple of flaws.

1) During the last third, his pace picks up and where Liverpool (early) gets extensive, leisurely coverage, things get fairly breathless by the time he is rattling through Newcastle - a looming deadline ?

2) There is an absolute clanger when he talks about ancient feuds - he gets one of the clans who fought at Glencoe wrong.

But, on...more
A pleasant travelogue and discussion about the north of England. Where does it start? What's the difference between the Scouse, the Geordie, etc.? Maconie is from Wigan which apparently does count as the North, and his appreciation is well done. I now want to visit Durham!
After Homicide was put down unfinished, the warmth and likeability of this book was a complete tonic. I don’t much like Maconie when I’ve seen him on TV or heard him on the radio as he seems to be trying too hard to be a likeable, albeit opinionated, Northerner. But in this book he comes across really well, and his observations of life in the North chimed with many of mine, although he expressed them better. Not overtly sentimental, nor overtly self-effacing, this was reminiscent of the best of...more

This was a perfectly timed book, reading about Liverpool & all it's grandiose splendidness, while enjoying the ferry cross the Mersey. I certainly recognised a lot of the North - my familiarity with Blackpool Pleasure Beach, conversations with my mum after she bumped into someone who knew someone who I went to play school with & a small tear for the loss of Bubbles in Morecambe. I spent an excellent summer where most of the people on my course with worked at Kingway Baths, Bubbles or li...more
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Stuart Maconie is a TV and radio presenter, journalist, columnist and author.

He is the UK’s best-selling travel writer of non-TV tie-in books and his Pies and Prejudice was one of 2008’s top selling paperbacks. His work has been compared with Bill Bryson, Alan Bennett and John Peel and described by The Times as a 'National Treasure'.

He co-hosts the Radcliffe and Maconie Show on BBC Radio 2 every M...more
More about Stuart Maconie...
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