Book Review: A Year In The Life of Lucy Leonelli

Book Review: A Year In The Life

Delighted to be on the Book Blog Tour today to share my book review of A Year In The Life by Lucy Leonelli. This is a non-fiction travel book with a difference…full of adventures as you’d expect but this time in the company of battle re-enactors, circus performers, Morris dancers, naturists, trainspotters, vampires, goths and more. Yes really! 🙂

Where are we Touring to?

A Year In The Life takes us on a fascinating tour around the UK. Lucy takes readers on an unusual A to Z adventure to visit some of Britains interesting subcultures to learn more about the people and their communities.

Book Cover Notes

In her late twenties and already a partner in her headhunting firm, Lucy Leonelli was seemingly on top of the world, but despite her success she couldn’t shake the feeling she was missing out on life out there.

So Lucy did the only reasonable thing she could do: she hung up her suit and set out on a year long journey to uncover her most authentic self.

Book review A Year In The Life of Lucy Leonelli. Travel Book A to Z of subcultures in Britain

Stepping outside her comfort zone, she turned to twenty-six little-understood subcultures of the UK – communities often heard about but very seldom seen. For two weeks each, she lived with battle re-enactors, circus performers, hill baggers, Morris dancers, naturists, trainspotters, yogis, zeitgeist political activists and more, experiencing first-hand their social rituals and customs.

A Year in the Life charts Lucy’s adventure as she swam naked with lawyers and vets, cast spells with teachers and IT consultants, dressed in tight latex, drank with self-proclaimed vampires and fought the undead in an epic LARP battle. It tells of the importance of community in an increasingly isolating society; of the unquenchable human thirst for a sense of belonging; of how misguided our own prejudices can be; and of how when we open the door to others, we might just learn something about ourselves.

Share of Adventures

My Thoughts

Firstly, I want to start by saying what a unique concept for a book. The author introduces her book by sharing how the idea came about whilst on a ten-day silent meditation retreat. Sitting crossed legged in a meditation session, her mind was busy with thoughts of ‘What the bloody hell do I want to do with my life.’

Remembering a game she played with best friend Kate, arranging weekly outings inspired by a different letter of the alphabet, Lucy realised maybe this could help her discover who she wanted to be. Over the next year the author visits twenty six subcultures around the UK. So instead of A is for Art Class, it was A is for Aristocrats, B is for Battle Re-enactors. Could this be how she finds her community, her tribe and what she should be doing with her life?

This is a fun and entertaining read. The author fully immerses herself into experiencing every subculture that she visits. She doesn’t shy away from asking the questions we’re all thinking. What do they actually do? Why are they doing it? What made them decide to become a…?

I do a quick poll and discover I am surrounded by architects, actors, a brigadier general, consultants, salesmen, cleaners, dustmen, doctors, craftsmen, teachers, cowmen, military-aircraft fitters and horse-riding instructors.’

The author has a wonderfully balanced and engaging writing style, it felt like you were there with Lucy at each event, watching on the sidelines. I really enjoyed Lucy’s narrative throughout this book. She shared her thoughts and feelings before meeting each group and the level of research she undertook in order to prepare herself, as much as she could.

Each of the twenty six subcultures warmly welcomed the author into their world. They invited Lucy to spend the weekend with them to find out more about their rituals, customs and beliefs and to have a go. I liked the fact that Lucy shows nothing but respect and genuine interest in each and every community that she spends time with. Never mocking or challenging other peoples beliefs or actions, she simply observed, asked questions and got to know the real people behind the masks, costumes or events.

I love everything about this group of people. I love the geekiness of it all. I love the lack of judgement. I love the mix of old and young. I love all the different characters and the way they banter together, bouncing off each other but always remaining patient and kind.

Full credit to Lucy, she really did throw herself into each activity, often with laugh out loud consequences. I mean, naked yoga, really! I won’t be able to do downward dogs ever again without fits of giggles, thanks Lucy. 🙂 I also loved the quotes at the beginning of each chapter taken from an interview, such as:

D if for Dog – ‘That must be the most peed-on lamp post in the country.’

E is for Essex – ‘I ain’t never had four girls show me their vajazzles before.’

Three Take Aways From The Book

I like to share three take aways from the non-fiction books that I review. So here’s my three favourite, thought provoking take aways:

  • the importance of community in an increasingly isolating society, and the unquenchable human thirst for a sense of belonging.
  • how misguided our own prejudices can be; and of how when we open the door to others, we might just learn something about ourselves
  • We are all a bit odd really. Embrace the variety of the human experience.


A unique and truly fascinating peek into some of the subcultures of Britain.

I learned that human beings are excellent at finding increasingly inventive ways to socialise. For many battle re-enactors, naturists, goths, Morris dancers and SF fans, the social side of the community is far more important than their respective activities.

This is a great book to buy for friends and family as we can all learn from Lucy’s observations. The conclusions to the book were insightful and very thought provoking. Highly recommended.

Where To Buy The Book

Amazon UK

Further Book Info:

  • Published Date: 20 January 2022
  • Publisher: Unbound
  • Page Count: 400

About The Author

Lucy Leonelli is a self-proclaimed social tourist with an unquenchable thirst for exploring, experiencing and understanding the world’s most colourful subcultures and communities.

Born in Bristol, she now runs executive recruitment for a technology firm in Silicon Valley and lives in Berkeley, California.

Where To Find Lucy Online

Twitter | Instagram

Blog Tour Organised by

Random Things Tours

Many thanks to Anne @randomttours for inviting me on the book blog tour for A Year In The Life by Lucy Leonelli. Thanks also to the author and Unbound Books for my copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Finally, I hope you’ve enjoyed my book review of A Year In The life by Lucy Leonelli. If you love travel books, like I do, then check out these book reviews of non fiction travel books that I think you might like.

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