A J MacKinnon or Sandy has a goal: to drink from the waters at the Well at the World’s End on the Isle of Iona, off the coast of Scotland. Then, as local legend has it, he will be granted eternal youth.
According to the guidebook, he must do so over land and sea, which Sandy interprets as no flying. So without much of a plan, Sandy quits his teaching job in Australia and heads off on his adventure. He hitches rides in cars and yachts and travels by train and freighter, stumbling from one disaster or dead end to another, with an infectious humour.
The Well at the World’s End is a wonderful book. I particularly enjoyed his encounter with the secret tourist police in Laos.
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Mackinnon’s first book The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow was a real “word of mouth” seller in the shop, and many people who read it bought it again as a gift for others. This book, I feel, will be the same, as it’s the sort of story you want to share.
The writing is warm, humorous and entertaining. Sandy is an ideal travelling companion: a great storyteller, interesting and informative, without bombarding the reader with facts. The book is peppered with beautiful line drawings that add extra charm.
* Ian Hallett has been a bookseller all of his working life; he currently works at Pages & Pages Booksellers in Mosman, NSW. This review courtesy of Bookseller+Publisher’s books blog Fancy Goods.