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Pies and Prejudice: In search of the North

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  2,787 ratings  ·  222 reviews
A Northerner in exile, Stuart Maconie goes on a journey in search of the North, attempting to discover where the clichés end and the truth begins. He travels from Wigan Pier to Blackpool Tower and Newcastle's Bigg Market to the Lake District to find his own Northern Soul, encountering along the way an exotic cast of chippy Scousers, pie-eating woollybacks, topless Geordies ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published February 7th 2008 by Ebury Press (first published 2007)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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 ·  2,787 ratings  ·  222 reviews

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Jan 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
This isn't so much THE guide to the north of England, as Stuart Maconie's guide to the north. And in the spirit of 'write-what-you-know', he has done just that. There's also a massive chunk of the north of England missing from this book, but I'll come to that later. No book is perfect I suppose, and this is a good read. It's funny, it's interesting and there are things to learn. I've got a couple more places I've never been to yet that are added onto my native wishlist. And in all of this he is ...more
Nick Davies
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, favourites
I quite enjoyed the other Stuart Maconie book I have read (Adventures on the High Teas: In Search of Middle England) last summer - but was slightly underwhelmed by that book's attempt to define 'Middle England' as I found it all a little gentle and indefinite, and also slightly contrived.

In this book, however, perhaps because Maconie is writing about a subject a little closer to his (and my) heart - defining and celebrating Northern England - I felt I got a lot more from it. The author's witty a
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this. A beautifully written, warm and funny love letter to the North (although Yorkshire is a tad short changed)
Feb 24, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 15, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 17, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Oct 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Another good book from Maconie. Interesting trawl around the north
May 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
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).
Nicholas Whyte
Dec 23, 2009 rated it really liked it

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
Aug 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I love the north of England and enjoyed viewing it through Stuart Maconie's eyes. From his clearly tongue-in-cheek comments it would be easy to believe that he really doesn't think much of Southerners (well Londoners, as he clearly classes anyone from south of Watford Gap as being).

I imagine some people who were - purely by accident of birth, - born in the south would have given up on this because of the way he often refers to us, and that would be a shame as it's a great book. I can't wait for
Sep 12, 2008 rated it liked it
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.
Chris Rigby
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Good travel books have several things in common :
1. there's a good strong reason behind the journey
2. the approach is quirky, personal and subjective (unlike old-fashioned guide books)
3. there's a generous helping of humour and personal anecdote
4. the bad is lambasted while the good is lyrically celebrated.

"Pies & Prejudice" meets all those criteria. The gold standard for me is "Notes From A Small Island" (Bill Bryson) which has an additional perk that Maconie's book cannot match - the "outsider
Russell George
I quite like Stuart Maconie. His erudite enthusiasm for ‘stuff’ is, on the radio, quite compelling. I even like his show ‘The Freak Zone’, where he plays self-consciously avant-garde, often atonal music that he himself probably hates. OK, I don’t seek that show out, but if it’s on while I’m doing the washing up then I’ll leave it on for a few minutes.

And I liked this, for a while. It reminded me at first of Pete McCarthy’s work, which I enjoyed about 20 years ago. Stuart goes ‘in search of the N
Johanna Breen
Jul 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 20, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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. ...more
F.G. Cottam
Oct 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Worth reading if only for his dad's observation that there are few social situations not significantly improved by the presence of a pie. Will strike a chord with anyone fortunate enough to have been born and brought up in the north of England. Very funny and well written ...more
Mags Delaney
Jul 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being 12000 miles further south than Mr Maconie but hailing from the same town originally this book made me laugh and feel very homesick all at the same time ... this is the first book of his I've read and it won't be the last! ! ...more
Jul 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anglophiles; travel narrative addicts
Shelves: travel
In spite of the many sporting and (obscure) music references, I really enjoyed Maconie's writing (reminding me quite a bit of Ian Marchant, another great author). Definitely recommended! ...more
Tracey Sinclair
Feb 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this: a warm but clear eyed tour of the North. Maconie is a lovely narrator: passionate, informed and funny. As a Geordie, it made me homesick!
Laura Harker
Aug 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stuart Maconie is definitely one of my top humans. This book ain't so bad either. A heartwarming and humourus read. ...more
Sep 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-author
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
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Makes my heart ache for the North. I need to move back. 💔
Aug 16, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Did not finish. Bored the poop out of me. I was hoping for an entertaining read about places I could feasibly visit (what with living oop north and all) but was given a lot to wade through about music and football neither of which I want to read about.
I guess it was just not my cup of tea.
Somnath Sengupta
Sadly, this book was very difficult to get through in places. The fault is not of the book or the author, though he tries too hard to be funny at times.

Maconie crams in so many pop culture references that it is extremely difficult to understand all of them if you are not an English. I also got lost when he got into detailed descriptions about streets and local landmarks. Thankfully, I was saved by considerable number of football and rock music stories, which I was able to grasp. This book is wr
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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

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“If you’re an alien, how come you sound like you come from the north?’ ‘Lots of planets have a north.’ Doctor Who, 2005” 1 likes
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