Gillian Tindall at Literary Review:
Let us retreat again quickly into the more distant past. So much varied research has contributed to this excellent book that it is a treasure-trove of many more significant facts than one can cite. There are long excursions into the growth of the spa and into the wildly varying and often scientifically groundless advice on water, air (good and bad), exercise (ditto), diets, purges, rest (too much or too little) and underwear, elevated by Gustav Jaeger into something of a belief system. There is the rebranding of mountains from places full of only semi-enjoyable danger and dread into over-visited international playgrounds. Similarly, the sea moved through the centuries from being an object of respect and fear (Joseph Addison wrote in 1812 of the ‘pleasing Astonishment’ of seeing the ‘Heavings of this prodigious Bulk of Waters’) to one of enthusiasm, a focus of the cult of bathing. And there is the more recent shift in concepts of beauty, from the Rossetti pallor of the True Woman to the class-free obsession with sunburn, which came with the tourism boom of the 1950s and 1960s instigated by cheap airfares.