Access All Areas: Selected Writings 1990–2010 by Sara Wheeler - review by Robert Chesshyre

Robert Chesshyre

Beyond Bristol

Access All Areas: Selected Writings 1990–2010


Jonathan Cape 285pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

Republishing journalism and other ephemeral work is a tricky business. That is not to say that it should never be attempted: much fine writing would be lost if there were no anthologies of work by journalists and (in the book to hand) travel writers. It is best to be relaxed, however, when reheating past dishes. Sara Wheeler – in this entertaining and diverse collection – protests a little too much.

Rather than letting her pieces speak for themselves, which they do eloquently, she wades into portentous sentences that make one blink. ‘Throughout my writing life, travel has loaned a vehicle in which to explore the inner terrain of fears and desires we stumble through every day’, and more besides. I shouted ‘buy a bloody ticket and get cracking’. Thankfully, she soon does.

This collection is published to mark Wheeler’s fiftieth birthday. Her travel writing – especially from the polar regions – has created an admired reputation. Access All Areas sweeps the reader from an account of the Wheeler family meeting George Best in Moscow when she is a child, through

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