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Thursday, 5 February 2015

Book Review: The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices by Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens

The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices is a humorous narrative of the walking tour Collins and Dickens undertook in 1857 and was originally published in Household Words. Collins becomes Thomas Idle (truly idle) and Dickens becomes Francis Goodchild (laboriously idle). It's split into five parts - the first covers their mountainous walk and Idle's ankle injury, the second follows on from that and includes a ghost story penned by Collins, the third comprises Thomas Idle essentially explaining why he's idle, the fourth includes a very disturbing tale penned by Dickens that frightened me in broad daylight, while the final portion is set at Doncaster during Race-Week.

Separately, these two are brilliant; together they're even better. I spent so much time chuckling at this book, quite a bit of it in public too. The interplay between the two characters is wonderful, particularly during the fourth number, and the exaggerated personas are excellent throughout. The recounting of Idle's accident in the first part sets the bar high for the rest of the book and it certainly delivers.

Both the ghost stories are creepy enough, and definitely memorable. While the one penned by Collins has one real moment of creepiness though, the one by Dickens is more malignant and was both enjoyable to read and incredibly unsettling.

It's difficult to say too much about a book that's only 130 pages long. I will say, as a side point, that the Hesperus Press edition is beautiful and compact. I love their books for those reasons and I was delighted to find The Lazy Tour in such a neat little package. Highly recommended to any fans of Collins and Dickens and, most especially, to fans of both.

This book was read as part of the 'TBR' reading challenge, details here.

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