‘Bonjour! Is this Italy?’ by Kevin Turner

Kevin TurnerThis is an easy-read European travelogue; a simple diary of Kevin’s month on the road with his Suzuki SV650S. It doesn’t purport to include tales of great adventure or the angst of years seperated from family and friends, and that doesn’t detract from it one bit. It is the reality for most of us and is the product of someone who found themselves with a few weeks to spare, a wonderfully ironic sense of humour, a functioning bike and a desire to get out and ride it.

The book does have some ‘how-to’ pretentions which don’t sit terribly comfortably with the bouyant flow of the narrative, but thankfully the instances are few and are easy to gloss over. These are very different from the snippets of  engaging historical info of which there are many, perfectly placed and often delivered with irreverant wit.

His route isn’t really mapped out and if he feels like exploring wherever he is, he stays a while. If there is a theme to the journey it’s Kevin’s unbridled love of motorsport, so we are taken on a minor pilgrimage of some of motoring’s mini-meccas; Maranello, Nurburgring and less successfully but even more anecdotally entertaining, Stuttgart. He does like to indulge in that peculiarly British literary characteristic of negativism, which can easily appear formulaic but fortunately doesn’t – “much credit must go to my sleeping bag at this point, which, heroically, had tried to save the day by absorbing as much of the water as possible”.

There is much more than that within the 139 pages of text and images and occasionally his descriptive prose really paints the exceptional picture it’s attempting to, as an engaging travel book should. The ways in which he transcribes some personally historical moments, like his earliest childhood experiences of motor racing, are quite magical.

This is Kevin Turner’s first book and it’s obvious there is terrific talent here which will undoubtedly shine in his next. This is lucky because he’ll not make a living from photography. Although there are colour images on every page, most are superflous, adding little to the already colourful text. The publisher, Veloce, does excel in colourful automotive literature so perhaps that’s the reason for their inclusion.

If you want a mighty overland story of battles with mud, malaria or malicious border guards you’ll be sorely disappointed, but if you’re looking for a couple of evenings’ entertainment, it’s excellent and will probably make you go and get the calendar to see just when you too can disappear for a few weeks. Available here

Paddy Tyson

Published by Veloce Publishing
Paperback, 139 pages, lots of colour photos and maps
ISBN 978-1-845843-99-1