Book Review – Night Walking – Matthew Beaumont
Book: Night Walking
Author: Matthew Beaumont
Year of Release: 2015
Read 413-page paperback edition in December 2017.
This non fiction book is a detailed history of the practice of night walking, specifically in London. In particular, going back to the days before gas lamps were prevalent, walking at night had a very different connotation. Depending on the time period, and who you were and what class you might be, there were different aspects to walking at night that applied. The book focuses not only on walking itself, but on the poor who lived in the streets and were persecuted for being outdoors at night, even though they didn’t have a home to go to. This book provides detail around the history of walking at night over the past several centuries in London and the surrounding area.
Author Matthew Beaumont has done a very thorough research job with this book, which has a copious amount of detail around citizens and people who walk at night, either by choice or because they are homeless and have nowhere else to go.
Beaumont focuses at times on the rationale for walking at night, and at other times he focuses more on the culture, society, principles of justice, and politics that relate to night walking. Beaumont takes a chronological approach in principle, although he does jump around at times in the book, looking at night walking and the peoples in the streets at various points in London’s history.
Beaumont does best when focusing on specific people or issues, like the last couple of chapters specifically focused on an interesting historical figure, Charles Dickens. Reading about his habit of night walking, and why he did it and how it helped him with creativity and deal with insomnia, was fascinating.
However, in other areas of the book, Beaumont tends to be a little bit jumpy, moving from topic to topic in a somewhat disorganized and haphazard style. Further, in some chapters particularly in th emiddle of the book, Beaumont tends to allow th narrative to get buried in areas of detail that are likely uninteresting to the majority of readers who pick up the book wanting to learn about night walking in London. Although perhaps fascinating from a scholarly point of view, it gets off topic for a mainstream non fiction book.
In conclusion, this book does have some interesting areas of focus for readers, however readers will often have to endure side trips into areas that are meandering and removed.
Overall: 2.5 stars out of 5 stars