England, says Matthew Engel, is the most complicated place in the world. And, as he travels through each of the historic English counties, he discovers that's just the start of it. Every county is fascinating, the product of a millennium or more of history: still a unique slice of a nation that has not quite lost its ancient diversity.
He finds the well-dressers of Derbyshire and the pyromaniacs of Sussex; the Hindus and huntsmen of Leicestershire; the goddess-worshippers of Somerset. He tracks down the real Lancashire, hedonistic Essex, and the most mysterious house in Middlesex. In Durham he goes straight from choral evensong to the dog track. As he seeks out the essence of each county - from Yorkshire's broad acres to the microdot of Rutland - Engel always finds the unexpected .
Engel's England is a totally original look at a confused country: a guidebook for people who don't think they need a guidebook. It is always quirky, sometimes poignant and often extremely funny.
Matthew Engel is a journalist and author. He has written for the Guardian and Financial Times, among other publications, and was the editor of the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack for twelve years. His books include Eleven Minutes Late: A Train Journey to the Soul of Britain and Extracts from the Red Notebooks.