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Thread: Smoke in the lanes by Dominic Reeves

  1. #1
    Chilling Out Willowstars's Avatar
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    Smoke in the lanes by Dominic Reeves

    I picked this up in our local library, I've renewed it 3 times as its a real slow read. I'm about half way through now and still not sure what I think of it. I can't decided wether it's an interesting and true account of Romany life or a very odd view of it. Has anyone else read it and what did you think?


  2. #2
    Radiant Being wurzel's Avatar
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    I haven't read it but it sounds familiar, I'm thinking something to do with Dave Sanger ? or is there a song of the same title? The may be it, the tune could have been played on a video of his life style.

  3. #3
    Chilling Out Willowstars's Avatar
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    Done a bit more research today and found this on Amazon which I think answers my question:

    I was looking forward to reading this book, based on the reviews, supposedly more authentic because it was a contemporary account, I was disapointed to find many inconsistencies in it. Reeve talks as though he's a Romany, writing of conversations wherein he discussed his own Romany forebears, but he wasn't, he was born into a middle class english family, a self confessed and successful thief/shop lifter, he changed his name and destroyed all papers which could have identified him when he took to the road after being discharged from the RAF on National Service after successfully feigning mental illness....he had became friends with a house dwelling Romany and befriended by this family, for someone with a shady past to learn about how to becomed a traveller must have been the answer to his problems.
    Nevertheless he did travel and did mix with true Romanies, although his life partner was not a Romany either, and this book does describe that life. But I felt his descriptions of other Romanies almost like caricatures of the people, his condescending attitude to them rankled with me, the fact that he was an observer and not truly one of them comes through time and time again.
    The times he talks about in the book appear to be in chronological order but are clearly not as dogs which he has sold appear in later episodes, so that the whole book comes over as a cobbled together work of fiction with the author laughing at us for reading it and being so gullible.
    To my mind a much better and more authentic book about Romanies in this same period is Born on The Straw by Dorothy Strange, now sadly out of print, but worth looking out for. It is a biography of a Romany and his English wife. Their daughter appears in several films about Romany life which can be found on YouTube...search Born on the Straw, these films are charming and worth viewing.

  4. #4
    Walking back to happiness ma bungo's Avatar
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    You are correct Mr W


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    Sven Berlins book Dromengro is a nice book about the Romany life in the New forest in a time gone by , I am about to read The Girl in the Painted Caravan by Eva Petrelengo when Bungo stops hogging it , her autobiography of a Romany child hood
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  5. #5
    Chilling Out Willowstars's Avatar
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    Thanks Ma Bungo I think I'll give up trying to drag myself through Smoke in the Lanes and look for those instead. I'm also looking for books on working boats that are true account as my mums family were boat people.

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