Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire is a beautifully produced book that will make you want to visit Warwickshire to see the spots of each of the stunning photographs. The front cover reminds you of a travel guide, and as soon as you start reading, you realise it’s just that.
S.C. Skillman, the author, takes you on a wonderful journey through villages, woods and towns around Warwickshire. There are ice age stones, hangman’s corners, carved heads in the market square in Warwick and so much more.
Each story comes with beautiful photographs, bringing out the atmosphere of the places described. Most of the photos were taken by the author or the author’s family and she’s done an amazing job. It’s hard to tell whether the picture sparked the story or the story called for the picture, but either way, the photos are spot on.
The amount of research that has gone into the Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire is enormous and comes out through quotes, interviews, letters and all kinds of anecdotes. Everything is presented in an easy to read, fast-paced read. The stories are usually quite short, making it attractive for a quick read when busy, although I found myself reading on and on, as the stories are so engaging!
Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire has a wide variety of stories. It includes legends, ghost stories, stories around tax collecting in a special setting that still goes on today and stories around local churches. The index at the beginning of the book isn’t much help, as I could never choose, haha! The chapter headings are intriguing, so how would you choose between ‘Tales of Warwickshire Witchcraft’, Strange Happenings and Mysteries’ and ‘Rural Crimes’? The best thing to do is to simply start at the beginning. The index is great for re-reading chapters though.
S.C. Skillman brings out the local people she met, sharing their tales and views. That to me makes the book special. As I said, it’s just like a travel guide, where you go to wonderful places and you meet up with people. You chat to them, starting the conversation with, “That’s an odd stone, with that met fence around it?” The older man will nod and smile and tell you all about the special rector they had once, who had explained it to be an ice age boulder. Who would have guessed?
Each story is fascinating, making you want to see it for yourself. To me, that means a lot, as I find with many tour guides, once I have seen the picture and read the information, I’m done. Not so with Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire, as the stories sound so curious and interesting, I want to go and see for myself, to feel the atmosphere.
I’m really grateful to have received a review copy but was under no pressure or obligation to write a favourable review.