Ben Oliver


British Summer Time Begins

The School Summer Holidays 1930-1980
30 August 2021

An account of what people did on holiday before foreign travel was the go-to choice, as told by the children who suffered through/enjoyed the summer break at the time.

A wistful and charming trip down memory lane that quickly turns into a session at your uncle’s house with him just prattling on and on. The writing style is the same as in Maxtone Graham’s previous book Terms and Conditions1, she speaks to dozens of people and assembles the fragments on memories into a logical order. It’s a smart way to keep the reader hooked by avoiding having to extensively quote people—you can just paraphrase and move on.

However when applied to this broader subject the concept irritated me. The book covers a whole spectrum of different experiences, but there’s a sense of the author’s hand shaping the dialogue to fit a narrative more than there was before. We should be outside more. We should use screens less. Kids don’t explore anything beyond the playground.

I don’t necessarily disagree but the body of the book makes the point on its own without the author having to step in.

A very easy read for a day off, but the sickly sweet tone and endless very mildly interesting anecdotes often made me wish I was reading something else…