Book Review: ‘The Life: Monaco Grand Prix’
Written by Stuart Codling, a longtime motorsport journalist, broadcaster and author (one of whose books I’ve already reviewed), The Life: Monaco Grand Prix is a book about the glamorous Formula One race hosted annually at the Monte Carlo circuit in Monaco.
The Life: Monaco Grand Prix
Written by Stuart Codling
Product Details: Hardcover, 240 pages
Retail Price: $30.00 US | £19.99 UK | $38.99 CAN
Publication date: April 16, 2019
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The book first launches into a history of Monaco itself and how it developed its motorsport roots, after which it discusses some of the most famous F1 driver rivalries through the lens of Monaco, notable victories and crashes, and the evolution of the circuit among other things.
If you enjoy F1 and have an interest in the glitzy party that is the Monaco Grand Prix — because let’s face it, it’s less a race and more an excuse for celebrities and millionaires to have a grand old time — the book’s $30 price tag might be worth it to you, but even as an avid F1 fan myself I’m not sure I would recommend it unless you can find a used copy.
The presentation, it must be said, is lovely. The book feels heavy and sturdy, the pages are thick, and every page of text is accompanied by at least one-full page photograph. This helps obscure the fact that the book is fairly light on content. Out of the 230 pages, there are fewer than 100 full pages of text, ensuring you can get through the entirety of it in one afternoon if you wanted to.
If you’re already deep enough into the world of F1 that you might be interested in such a book, you may therefore find that it offers little new insight. I found the chapters describing the history and politics of Monaco to be interesting, but once it began recounting racing events that will be familiar to many F1 fans, it was only easy to get through the pages because there is so little to read on them.
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Some of the content even seems entirely superfluous. One chapter, titled “In Presence of God,” features only one page of text (or three-quarters of a page if you exclude the big block quote) devoted to Ayrton’s Senna’s 1988 qualifying lap around Monaco. All the page offers is the details of the lap — the lap time and how it compared to Senna’s teammate Alain Prost — and an excerpt of the man’s account of the lap, in which he describes the near-religious experience he had behind the wheel. It would be one thing if the relevance of Monaco factored into this “chapter,” but it doesn’t. It could have been about an amazing lap around any of the circuits on the F1 calendar of the time.
The book suffers from similar problems in other places, such as during the author’s personal account of a bicycle ride with F1 drivers. It was supposed to demonstrate that those who seek to protect their wealth from taxes by living in Monaco did not necessarily have to pay the cost by being bound to “high-rise living and traffic-choked streets” thanks to the principality’s proximity to other, more pleasant places; but one wonders if anybody ever really questioned the wealthy’s ability to find comfort.
The Life: Monaco Grand Prixis available through the publisher’s website, Amazon, and other retailers.
Product provided for review by publisher.
Kurt Verlin was born in France and lives in the United States. Throughout his life he was always told French was the language of romance, but it was English he fell in love with. He likes cats, music, cars, 30 Rock, Formula 1, and pretending to be a race car driver in simulators; but most of all, he just likes to write about it all. See more articles by Kurt.