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Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

2 Sep

Synopsis – After nearly two decades in Britain, Bill Bryson took the decision to move back to the States for a few years, to let his kids experience life in another country, to give his wife the chance to shop until 10 p.m. seven nights a week, and, most of all, because he had read that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another, and it was thus clear to him that his people needed him.


But before leaving his much-loved home in North Yorkshire, Bryson insisted on taking one last trip around Britain, a sort of valedictory tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home. His aim was to take stock of the nation’s public face and private parts (as it were), and to analyse what precisely it was he loved so much about a country that had produced Marmite, a military hero whose dying wish was to be kissed by a fellow named Hardy, place names like Farleigh Wallop, Titsey and Shellow Bowells, people who said ‘Mustn’t grumble’, and Gardeners’ Question Time.


My Thoughts – I read this book as part of a reading challenge and also as I’ve never had a chance to read this authors work and i thought it was about time that i did.

Bill Bryson is a famous American author, who has been living in Great Britain for a number of years. He makes the decision to move back to America to give his children a chance to experience the American lifestyle, but before he did, he decided to travel around Britain by (mostly) public transport and make a book about his experiences. This is that book.

Now i’m not normally a fan of travel writing as it’s not normally the sort of book i read but this book really hooked me in. There are so many different places mentioned in this book, some of which i had actually visited, South Shields and Edinburgh for example and i could really picture the places that Bryson was speaking about. Also, a town/city very close to me was mentioned which was a big plus for me.

The book was also packed with facts about the area that the author was in. This was really interesting reading and i picked up lots of information that i didn’t already know, like how little Lake Windermere is compared to the lakes in America.

The writing of this book was very funny. Bryson has got the ‘British way’ off to a tee, like how the British don’t really like complaining and when they have to they end up apologising for complaining! Also how many Britons don’t like to say no. For example he stays in a lot of bad hotels and instead of complaining about the price and conditions he just gets on with it.

This book has really made me think. What with the ‘Great British Summer’ this year, with the Golden Jubilee, the Olympics and Paralympics its made me realise what a lovely little country that i live in. It’s a very diverse country with lots of different attractions in and it’s really made me want to go to more places and visit more attractions that i havent already been too.

This book is very good, laugh out loud funny in places and very well written. I’ll definitely be reading more books by this author and would definitely recommend this to others interested in Great Britain.

Rating – 4/5