I enjoyed many camping holidays through the 1970s and I thought this would be a gentle reminder of the pleasures and pains of those trips. The book would have been more acceptable if described as a comic novel, but it is supposed to be a true account of family holidays: frankly, I don’t believe it. The first chapter sets the standard. The family car has starter motor problems. When Father gets to his mother’s house he refuses to stop the car so aged Granny has to dive into a moving vehicle. Really? If he’s having problems with the starter motor a driver would naturally be reluctant to stop the engine, but that doesn’t mean he can’t stop the car – they have clutches for just that purpose. When they get to the campsite they pitch the tent on a slope so steep that when Father and Grandmother fall over in the mud they slide down the hill and narrowly avoid going over the cliff. Father then breaks into an unoccupied caravan so they can shelter from the storm, but their movement dislodges the caravan from its mounts. They jump out and watch the caravan roll down the hill, END OVER END, and into the sea. Hmmm! Apart from such outlandish events, the book relies for its humour on endless pee and poo incidents and the fact that Mother swears like a trooper.
Emma Kennedy has an impressive writing pedigree. She has written for radio, television and the theatre and has the Wilma Tenderfoot series of children’s books to her name. She is also the current travel writer for The Guardian. How strange, then, that she should be so far off the mark with this one – and how baffling that there are so many 5* reviews on Amazon.
The book is available from Amazon The Tent, the Bucket and Me