Follow Raymond Walley around the world as he narrates his travel-filled past in A Peripatetic Life. When the author was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer on 8th May 2015, he realized that he must document his rich history of traveling, learning, and, particularly, coping with life in general. Amidst all the uncertainty of life (and career), he found pleasure in exploring different places and traditions. Don’t assume that the book is only about traveling, it’s also about the wide range of career choices that the author made. He tried his hands on a vast list of professions. In his own words,
Some of the things I have done include being a soldier, shop keeper, bankrupt, butler/cook, single parent, hire car driver, published author in the arenas of philately, psychometrics and model railways, a salesman, psychometric expert, university lecturer, professional model maker, company secretary and director of several companies.
The one thing that I liked the most about the book was the inclusion of his family events and special memories. Ironically, this is the same thing that increased my craving to know more about his family. This is where the book lacked, in my opinion. To name one of such instances, he mentioned his marriages but did not mention how (or when) he realized when some of these began going downhill. He has left very little details here and there but not sufficient. Of course, he never claimed to make this book a complete autobiography . This book served what it claimed: a memoir that includes his many career choices and travel adventures.
He has left many breadcrumbs along the way to guide others in their lives. For instance, when he was working as a Porter in a railway station, a lady befriended him. Against the rules, he invited her to the ticket office. Little did he know that this action would end up making him a suspect in a ticket fraud. The book is filled with such life lessons, if one reads closely.
I enjoyed reading about his time in Saudi Arabia. One can learn a lot about this country by reading this book. Having an abysmal knowledge of the gulf countries and their rules, I was shocked to read that it was (not sure if this rule still exists) illegal for a woman to go out with men who were unrelated to her. Another rule to keep the women in check or something to keep them safe — something to ponder! There are many anecdotes related to his travels to a variety of places to keep a travel-loving reader satisfied and entertained. Another thing (in the list of many aspects that I enjoyed about the book) is the addition of many photographs. The best part about these photographs is that these are not included randomly with no thought. On the contrary, the author has placed each picture at its relevant place.
The narration seemed a little animated to me. It did not feel that the author was narrating his life to me; it felt as if somebody was describing various events with no emotions. I enjoy reading a book where the narration flows from the beginning of the time to the end. A few flashbacks are fine, but I do not like when I am always confused about what point of time has the author reached. I am not sure that I was certain of the timelines all the time while reading A Peripatetic Life.
Having said all that and considering the fact that the author has delivered what he promised , I think the most just rating is 3 out of 4 stars. If the narration had a little life to it, I would have gladly awarded all 4 stars to the book.