(My Rating: 4 / 5)
This was my first Bill Bryson book and a few pages in, I was surprised at how ‘British’ and not ‘American’ he sounded (Well ok, except for the part where he gets defensive about American English!)
For those not in the know, Bryson is an American who moved to England in 1977, aged 26, with his English wife, who he had married a few years earlier. He lived and worked there for nearly twenty years and then decided to move back to America with his wife and children. Before he returned, he set out on one last trip around Britain – the ‘small island’ he had obviously come to love and admire, as is apparent through his writing. This book is an account of that expedition.
Many of the reviews I read on Goodreads contained complaints that this wasn’t a very good travel guide. But it’s not meant to be! If you have never been to the UK and are looking for a book on where to go, what to see, this isn’t it.
If however, you are someone who has lived in or travelled a fair bit in Britain, especially during the late 80’s and the 90’s I am quite sure you will enjoy this book. (Provided of course you have a sense of humour)
He writes with unbridled confidence and wit. I did think he was a bit condescending and unwarrantedly mean at a few parts – such as with the McDonald’s employee – but there is no denying the man’s talent. Do not be surprised if you find yourself laughing out loud!
His keen observation of all things British – the weather, the people, the customs and the food, vast store of knowledge on the subject matter, ability to laugh at himself and to find humour in the most unlikely of circumstances is what makes this book a delight to read.
It also left me desperately wanting to return to England!
This is a book I would read again and probably again after that.