Review of 'Full Circle'

Full Circle by Michael Palin

full_circle.jpg Following on from Around the World in Eighty Days and “Pole to Pole”, former Monty Python once again hit the road, this time travelling around the Pacific Rim, starting and ending at Little Diomede, a small island between Alaska and Russia in the Bering Straight, covering 50,000 miles and taking more than 270 days. This book covers some of the more memorable experiences he had on his travels rather than a detailed, day by day account of his trip along with a number of pictures.

For those having seen the television series there are a few “behind the scenes” aspects to the trip that were not revealed in the series such as his returning to the UK when his wife underwent emergency surgery or when in South America one of the crew got so sick they were unable to move though, of course, there are also tales of other sickness that are no doubt par for the course with a trip that takes in some of the backwaters of Asia and South America.

A significant amount of book is taken on the first half of the trip, from Russia down through Asia and Australia. The part of the trip that takes him through the smaller countries in Asia and the countries in South America are the parts of the book that seem the most personal with not only the travel but also of the amazing people that he meets though these are all simply short vignettes as his team continues on their relentless trip. The last 25% of his journey is through North America and is covered in far less detail, as he quickly eats up the final miles. In this journey it was good that Palin was able to spend a bit more time in some places and, looking a the chapter titles for the day numbers, we can see he had a number of days away from filming to enjoy or take in the area more fully which, of course, differs significantly from his 80 days trip. He manages to see the major sites along the way, taking advantage of the location, though the most famous such as Machu Picchu he barely describes here, preferring instead to concentrate on the activities away from the crowds (there is a picture here of him relaxing on top of a mountain with the magnificence of Machu Picchu behind him that he pointedly seems to be ignoring).

The book is a bit of a tough, long, read as there is so much for Palin to cover. With each day discussed in only a couple of pages the book is still over 300 pages and after some time the details blur from one place to the next. This book really is an adjunct to the television series rather than a book you can read without having seen the show. Without the show the book is simply a series of disjointed events with little rhyme or reason though, to be fair, interesting to the traveller. I found it fairly interesting but not something I would want to read again though I have noted several locations to potentially visit in the future…

Rating: “It is OK but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2020-09-11

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publisher: BBC Books

Publication Date: 1997

ISBN: 0771069073

Other reviewed books by Michael Palin: