Review: ‘The Naples of England’ by Andy Christopher Miller

The Naples of England: Andy Christopher Miller by [Miller, Andy]This is a most interesting memoir of a Baby Boomer growing up in Weymouth, Dorset. Miller was born ‘at the beginning of a New Age. 1946. The world had been scoured, scorched and cleansed at a terrible cost. Chance had chosen me and my generation to be its most fortunate beneficiaries.’ I also believe that to be so. These days we tend to forget how very far from that sort of childhood technology and consumerism have brought us, so it is good to remember those endless days when we were, grubbily, in and of the world around us. I remember similar incidents in my own girlhood. Here are the events that remain in the memory when much has been crowded out by the accumulations of adulthood. Some are of important events, some are quirkier.

This is the sort of book that many people intend to write, even if only for their descendants. Miller had the sense to start collecting information for his before all his sources were gone. Although the memories are vividly those of a lad between 8 and 16, the surrounding detail must have been helped immensely by input from his parents.

Miller is not afraid to dig deeply into his memories. He finds some which are poignant, others which show him in a less favourable light. He is an honest author with a broad palette with which to colour his childhood.

The story of his grandfather creating a ship in a bottle is a delight. We learn with him what he might want to be when he grew up, how he discovered a lifelong enthusiasm for rock-climbing, of endless summer days on a beach so full of holidaymakers it was difficult to find your way back to your own encampment if you went to get an ice-cream, of doing bed and breakfast (in defiance of the tenancy agreement) in a house already stuffed full of family, of comic books and bitterns. He speaks of a trip to  Chesil Beach and being awed by the power of the roiling water. He relates how he and others from his school walked fifty miles to show the Headmaster what they were capable of. He writes of the first long-haired youngsters (‘Mohairs’’) arriving in Weymouth and the explorations of philosophy and literature they initiated in him. Then there were UCCA forms and suggested sandwich courses and – at last – a light bulb moment of What To Do When I Grow Up. And, finally: London.

All the names and places have been renamed. Folk living in and around Weymouth will have fun identifying the places he talks about from the geography he describes on his way from here to there.

There is a final chapter which deals with memories from his parents which sets him back on his heels. Two incidents occurred before he was old enough to retain any memory of them himself. But both are huge. And neither was ever spoken of within the family. Miller discusses what he comes to know of the events and one feels his dismay and his need to set this down, so that the people concerned are not forgotten.

**I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review**




Published by Judi Moore

Hi there, I hope you find something to interest you here. In December 2017 I published my fourth book – ‘Wonders will never cease’. It’s a satirical campus novel set in the fictional Ariel University in 1985. If you enjoyed Tom Sharpe’s Porterhouse novels, Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’, David Lodge’s campus novels or Malcolm Bradbury’s ‘The History Man’ back in the day, you may enjoy revisiting the ivory towers of 1980s’ academe thirty years on. See what you think. “It is December, 1985. The year is winding gently towards its close until Fergus Girvan, a Classicist at Ariel University, finds his research has been stolen by the man who is also seeking to steal his daughter. But which man is, actually, the more unscrupulous of the two? And is there hope for either of them?” In the autumn of 2015 I published a volume of short fiction: 'Ice Cold Passion and other stories'. I am also the author of novella 'Little Mouse', a shortish piece of historical fiction which I published in 2014 and, a sequel to it, 'Is death really necessary?', my eco thriller set in the near future and which, confusingly, I published in 2009. All the books are available from all good online bookshops and FeedARead on paper, and as e-books on Kindle. On a semi-regular basis, and about a month after the event, I post here reviews which I do for Big Al & Pals, the premier reviewer of indie books, based in the States. My interests tend to thrillers, SF, magic realism and other quirky stuff. On this blog are also posted the reviews I did for Leighton Buzzard Music Club over some five years up to the end of 2015. LBMC present annual seasons of eight monthly chamber music concerts at the Library Theatre in Leighton Buzzard, Bucks. They select young musicians just beginning to make their name - and the concerts are usually magnificent. I was very proud to be associated with them. I review other music, books, theatre and exhibitions which I've particularly enjoyed. BTW - it says the link to Facebook is broken. I dispute that. Click it and see, why not?

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