13/09/2019
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Book review: The Caravaners

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For caravan aficionados and anyone looking for a present for the ‘caravaner who has everything’, then The Caravaners is worth a look.

The novel, based on a true story, tells the tale of a horse-drawn caravan holiday in Sussex and Kent in the early 20th Century. Elizabeth von Arnim, the author, recounts details on the challenges of her own caravan holiday experiences over 100 years ago in her comic tale.

Details include the difficulties hauling horse drawn caravans up a hill, staying in an Edwardian campsite and the quality of the bunk beds.

One of the characters includes the narrator, Baron Otto von Ottringel, a pompous and obnoxious individual, who faces up to the challenges of caravan life. He, with his younger wife Edelgard, come to the UK following an invitation to join a party of English people for a month travelling through Sussex and Kent.

Their home is a small, wooden horse drawn caravan. The Baron faces up to the ordeals including chopping wood, making fires, cooking, washing up and walking all day through all weathers while leading a horse. Some of that might appear normal to most caravaners these days. Back then, the Baron would have had servants to do most of these chores for him. Alas, we all have to do it ourselves in the 21st Century.

The author makes fun of the Baron’s character and society at the time, which was largely anti-German in the build-up to World War 1.

For caravaners, you will enjoy comparing the ‘hand-to-mouth’ nature of caravanning in Edwardian times with the luxury caravan owners experience today.

Handheld Press publishes The Caravaners for £12.99. You can buy it online as an ebook on Amazon or Kobo for less. The paperback edition is out now; the hardback version will be available later this year.

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